Nearly a Million Ways

To Pay for Your MBA

A Google search using the keywords “mba, financing” turns up a whopping 962,000-plus hits. After sharply noting that your parents are not named on the list of nearly a million people handing out money, aspiring applicants still can rest assured the funds are out there... somewhere. So, where does one start when sorting through all these financing schemes?

With the school that is admitting you, according to the experts.

If you decide to ap p ly for financial aid, you will need to do so with each school during the admissions application process. Being considered by a school for financial aid and being considered by a school for admission are separate processes, even though they happen in the same time frame, says the Graduate Management Admission Council.

In a straightforward statement, INSEAD qualifies this on its Web site: “INSEAD makes offe rs based on merit. We do not take your financial situation into account when making our admissions decisions. Some of our participants are sponsored by their company or receive scholarships, but most use their own funds or take out bank loans.”

According to GMAC, a school will put a financial aid package together only after you have been admitted. Then the school will determine what kind of aid you will be eligible for: usually, a combination of merit- based and need-based assistance.


Scholarships may be based on merit or demonstrated financial need. At all schools, stiff competition exists for scholarships, which do not require repayment.

Be enterprising and look for an unusual scholarship that uniquely fits you. Talk to the admissions and financial aid counselors about your background, personal interests and career plans to determine precisely wh at sort of funds you may qualify for.

A sampling of the vast scholarship opportunities,” includes the following criteria , alongside the standard are as of interest and skill set scholarships:
-  Danish nationality
-  Finnish women
-  Italian nationality
-  American women
-  Candidate or parent(s) in the British Armed Forces
-  Portuguese, Spanish and Brazilian nationalities
-  Lebanese or Egyptian nationals fluent in Arabic
-  Jewish (not necessarily Israeli)
-  Polish committed to work in Poland
- Candidates with excellent academic credentials from developing countries, (numerous).

Turn in scholarship and grant applications early. Meeting the stated deadlines is cri tical. Then get busy making arrangements to line up other financing sources to make the wait for approval less agonizing.

Salary and savings

Because an MBA is a major investment — often the largest investment most business school applicants have ever made — it’s the kind of commitment that may require ye a rs of advance financial planning and more than a few sacrifices. Begin by eliminating your consumer debt, clearing up any credit problems and saving as much money as possible. Once back in school, those long-forgotten student budget woes will reemerge — oftentimes on a Friday night over a macaroni and cheese dinner. It makes for an easier transition to chuck a lavish lifestyle before hitting the books.


Some schools, such as INSEAD, offer individual tuition at a discounted rate, and charge the full tuition fee to sponsoring companies. Specifically, INSEAD’s current discounted rate for individuals is 43,500 euros, compared to 59,000 euros for full tuition.

INSEAD’s estimated living costs also vary, depending on where the student chooses to enroll. In Fontainebleau, a single person should expect to pay about 22,000 euros, while the Asia campus costs slightly less at 18,000 euros. The cost of a campus switch adds 21,500 euros, according to the school’s Web site.

INSEAD statistics show that 2004 participants financed their MBA in the following ways:
-  Company sponsored 8 percent
-  Scholarships 13 percent
-  Other 79 percent


Loans are usually the “other,” being the most readily available source of fast funds. Lenders feel confident that people getting MBAs with their money will have the earning potential to pay them back, according to GMAC. Schools maintain lists of lenders both near their campuses and in various home countries, advising where students can obtain the most rapid approval and the best borrowing terms.

Try not to ask for more money than you will need to survive business school.

“Be careful to not borrow so much that you will struggle to pay it back when you graduate. The amount you have to repay in student loans can limit youtr career choihoices after business school,” GMAC cautions.

Foreign or domestic?

Deciding whether to take the leap to go abroad can be difficult. Increasingly, it’s a decision that few applicants face based solely on geographic factors, as universities in nearly every country in the world are working to develop quality MBA programs so their aspiring entrepreneurs can stay and study at home.

"In Europe, there are so many quality MBA programs that students generally don’t have to move away. They have more choices. And if they have more choices, they can stay in their country,” said Rachel Edgington, Manager of Applied Research at the Graduate Management Admission Council’s headquarters in Virginia.

China and India long have been among the top countries as far as the volume of GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) participants. But until recently, students have had few options but to leave home to pursue an MBA.

“In the last year or so, a number of high-quality MBA programs have grown up in India. China used to have a handful of MBA progra m s , and now they have hundreds,” Edgington add e d. The leading five countries — outside the U.S. with 149,475 participants — are Canada, India, China, Korea, and Japan. They are always in close competition for the top spot, with a lot of switching back and forth, from year to year.

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