With Round 2 applications behind us, it’s time to turn your attention to the next step in your MBA journey. Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how to pay for it. An MBA is a long-term investment, and fortunately, schools want to work with students to find a solution to financing school through a combination of loans and scholarships.
Therefore, the first resource to tap is your target program. Once admitted, your school will present you with a package of information about public and private loans and scholarships.
In addition, you may be considered for merit fellowships based on your academic credentials, accomplishments and experience that has already been communicated in your application. Most elite business schools offer merit-based awards at the time of admission that do not require a separate application, and some schools may also offer additional fellowships that you can apply for directly through the program.
Find out whether your target program offers fellowships or scholarships to applicants with extremely high GMAT scores, or who have otherwise excelled in academics, work experience, and service to the community.
For example, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business offers full-ride fellowships through the Jefferson Scholars Foundation that include a living stipend, funds for travel and research, and health insurance.
Some candidates look to their employer, especially those working for a large Fortune 100 company. Often, these employers will help fund your tuition if you commit to remaining with the company after graduation.
Finally, here are a few words of wisdom for individuals planning to attend business school in the near future:
- Get your finances in order first
- Think about living slightly below your means before school
- Save as much as possible
- Avoid credit card debt
- Scale back on things you don’t need (including big things like a car if you don’t really need one)
Consider seeking out diversity organizations where applicable. Forté Foundation does an amazing job preparing women for the journey to business school, and The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management orients applicants of color during the application process and awards full-tuition scholarships to top MBA candidates.
Starting early – about three months before applying – is also really helpful if you’re pursuing scholarships, fellowships or grants. Since scholarships are free money, competition can be fierce, and you’ll benefit from having the extra time to create strong scholarship applications and from knowing the key deadlines so that opportunities don’t pass you by.