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How do I finance my MBA

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You’ve considered pursuing an MBA and decided it is a smart move for your career. It can be exciting to think about your future in a top MBA program and your post-graduation job prospects, but there’s always that one lingering uncertainty: “How do I finance my MBA?”

Attending school full time for two years can be a considerable financial burden – a full-time MBA program’s tuition can exceed $50,000 per year. That, coupled with living expenses and other costs inherent in pursuing an MBA, makes it imperative to have a funding plan in place.

The good news is that thousands of people return to business school every year to get their MBA, and they successfully navigate the fiscal obstacles with responsible budgeting and planning. The earlier you begin to think about your financial plan, the easier the process will be.

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Do not rely solely on scholarships.

Most schools offer scholarship, grant or fellowship money to a portion of admitted students each year. However, aid availability varies by school and there is no guarantee that you will receive this kind of support. For planning purposes, it can be helpful to assume that will pay for your MBA without funding assistance from the school. If you are then awarded a fellowship, you will be in a much more secure financial position because of your planning.

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Begin saving now.

Start budgeting for your MBA now by paying down any existing consumer debt. Because you can expect to have student loan debt after graduation, you want to limit the amount of pre-existing debt you carry. In addition, start cutting your monthly expenses in any way you can. Simple things like cooking a meal at home instead of eating out, making your own pot of coffee in the morning instead of stopping by your local barista and resisting the urge to buy that “must-have” item will help you save money.

Explore loan options.

Federal loan programs (like Direct Unsubsidized and Direct Graduate PLUS) are the most common student loans. There are a variety of private loans and scholarships available as well. A number of business schools now partner with companies to offer loans without a U.S. cosigner, making loan acquisition for international students that much easier. If you plan to return to your current employer or have a solid relationship with a future employer, consider asking them if they will sponsor your MBA by paying for all or a portion of your expenses.

Ultimately, you should review all options to see which best suit your needs. The most important thing to realize is that you will be able to finance your MBA education. You may have to get creative in your approach and planning, but like most things, if you work hard you will be able to secure the funds necessary to pursue an MBA.

To maximize the ROI on your MBA education, you need to make the best financial choices available to you. Download our “Top 5 MBA Money Mistakes” to avoid some common financial pitfalls as you plan for your MBA program.