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Funding Your MBA Degree: Like A Quilt, Not A Blanket


Whether you choose to study in your home country or you’re headed overseas, getting an MBA is expensive. Taking a year or two away from work combined with the cost of your studies can require some financial acrobatics.


For many students, a loan seems like just the warm blanket you’ll need to make it through. And it definitely can be. But, smart MBAs usually piece together a quilt of financial resources rather than opting for a single covering.


How long is your piece of string?


There’s hardly a set size for any piece of string; the same goes for the cost of university education. Everyone’s needs are different. Tuition is just one part of that equation.


Students studying in their home countries will have a good idea of living expenses to go with tuition and fees. International students will need to dig around to find the actual cost of attendance (though they only need to prove funds according to the figures provided by their universities to secure their I-20 form for an American study visa).


Either way, you will need to figure out your budget before you can actively look for finances. Unless you’re working with a clearly defined budget, you’ll quickly find out how short your piece of string can be!


Paying for grad school is like piecing together a quilt


Very few students have enough money in their bank accounts to cover the full cost of attendance. If you happen to be one of them (lucky you!), you won’t find this article very exciting. Everyone else should keep in mind that paying for an MBA is usually done through a variety of funding sources.


  • Scholarships are every student’s best friend – even those that can afford the high costs of university education. Many American universities have need-blind admissions policies, meaning they won’t look at financial ability when admitting students. Upon acceptance to one of these universities, you may just find a scholarship award letter with your official offer. Other universities automatically add admitted students to a database. If a scholarship matches your profile, you’ll be registered without lifting a finger. But, even when these are options, you should be on the hunt for any and every external scholarship you can find. While you won’t qualify for all of them, free money is still the best way to pay for anything.


  • Take a look at your savings before looking at loans. If been working hard to repay your undergrad loans, you may not find a whole lot in your bank account. But, you can believe that any private institution willing to extend a loan to you will see what you have available – and some will factor your savings into their offer.  You’ll need to be realistic about what you have in the bank. If you want to ensure you have some savings to hold you afloat after graduation, consider transferring some of your funds into non-liquid assets.


  • Though it may seem as though this the moment you would look at loans, it’s not. There are still other options:
    • Though MBAs may not have as many opportunities as students in other fields of study, you may still be eligible for a teaching assistantship or another form of on-campus employment.
    • If you’re planning to return to your current company after graduation, employer sponsorship may be a welcome alternative to surviving on ramen noodles for a year. If you’re lucky, you may find a wealthy relative is willing to make a financial gift.
    • And, remember, you’re likely to put a fair amount of miles on your existing credit cards. Don’t treat these charges as savings, even though you should expect to borrow against these funds from time to time.


Look at loans last


There’s a reason you’ll want to explore each and every possibility before applying for educational loans; even when they’re fairly easy to obtain, it’s not a process you should repeat often. Nor will you be able to – there’s only so much you can borrow.


Whatever loan you pursue, it should cover the balance that’s left between your budget and the other funding sources you’ve been able to secure to date. If you’re studying in your home country, a shortfall may not be such a big deal. But, international students will have a difficult time securing a visa without covering every bit of their costs.


If you’re studying in your home country, you’ll have plenty of loan options. International MBAs, however, won’t find such an array of options. Some institutions are willing to cosign on local loans to complete their financing quilt. But, there’s always the Prodigy Finance option for qualified international students pursuing their education at top universities across the globe.


Prodigy Finance provides borderless loans to international students attending top graduate programmes across the globe. Katie Schenk has been part of the team as the Content Specialist since 2013, shaping words as the company has grown steadily over the years.