You know you want to earn a Master of Business Administration degree. You understand its value, and you are ready to put in the time. You are looking forward to graduation and the career opportunities that will follow. However, one issue remains: paying for an MBA. Because there are many ways to pay for your degree, the best option depends upon the type of MBA financial aid that is available to you.
Assistance is available to you in a number of forms. Depending upon your financial situation, work experience, and place of work, you may be eligible for one or more of the following:
- Tuition Reimbursement.
- Tuition Funds from Military Service.
- Student Loans.
Tuition reimbursement is a popular method of paying for an MBA. To take advantage of this type of program, employees at companies or organizations that offer tuition reimbursement apply for aid directly from their employers. Generally, employers grant this type of funding if they feel the degree will benefit the company by expanding employees’ skill sets and areas of expertise.
Tuition reimbursement works by repaying employees for their tuition costs upon successful completion of a course. (Sometimes the amount of reimbursement depends upon what grade the employee earns; sometimes it is a flat rate.) The employee can then use this money to pay for the next course in the program, and so on, and so forth.
Eligibility for reimbursement may require meeting certain conditions, so discuss them with your employer and be sure you understand them thoroughly prior to enrollment. For instance, your employer may require you to repay all or a portion of the money you have received if you leave the company prior to a specified point after graduation.
The benefits of tuition reimbursement include the following:
- You do not need to repay the money if you meet all conditions.
- Reduced overall cost of the degree.
- Employer support for you and your career.
Tuition Funds from Military Service
Serving in the military makes you eligible for a number of tuition assistance programs. While on active duty, it may be possible to set some money aside for a matching funds program that you can use later. It may also be possible to receive funds that are available to veterans through the post-9/11 GI Bill. If you are the dependent of a veteran, you may also be eligible for tuition assistance.
The specifics of tuition assistance for military service can be confusing. If you are seeking funds from the military as a means of paying for an MBA, be sure to consult the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a first step to determine your eligibility.
A scholarship is another debt-free source of MBA financial aid. Many schools make merit-based funds available to applicants who meet certain criteria, and a number of outside organizations also sponsor scholarships and other incentives. These outside sources might include professional organizations in your field or special interest groups that support advancement for people in your area of interest.
Take the time to research scholarships for graduate degrees. If you played a sport in college, see if there are scholarships for athletes seeking a graduate degree; similarly, research whether there are scholarships specific to your undergraduate major. Some organizations even offer support to professionals looking to launch a second career. In short, consider the many personal, professional and educational ways you can describe yourself and seek out every scholarship that matches.
A grant is money you receive that you do not need to pay back. Grants can come from a variety of sources, including private organizations and the federal government. The availability of a grant will depend upon the specifics of your MBA program; it may also depend upon your past academic performance and future plans. It is worth seeking out grants because they can help you fund your degree without burdening you with student debt. If you meet the conditions for a grant, it is an excellent way of paying for an MBA.
Student loans are available through the federal government and private lenders. To see if you are eligible for a federal student loan, you must complete a FAFSA form online. Some types of federal student loans stipulate how many credit hours you must complete each semester, so be sure to investigate all of the requirements prior to enrollment. It is important to take the time to complete the FAFSA, as well as to consult with the financial aid officers at your school, to ensure you complete all the requirements steps to receive this funding.
Typically, you do not need to repay a student loan until you graduate. You may elect to pay a portion of the balance due, or to begin paying interest, before you graduate so that you end up with less debt when you graduate. If you cannot make payments like this, however, or if you prefer to wait until you have graduated, you will then repay the debt over a number of years after you graduation.
The Best Strategy
The best strategy for paying for an MBA is to explore all of your options. Assistance programs include tuition reimbursement, scholarships and grants. Once you have identified the resources available to you, you can determine how much, if any, you need to borrow.
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