My husband Josh just wrapped up his graduate school applications this morning. I’m so proud of him… and also simultaneously happy that I’m already done with my own graduate degree! I’m a big believer in getting an MBA, whether you’re planning a corporate career or are a budding entrepreneur. However, like all things, it costs money.
I was lucky enough to not have any undergraduate debt, but for grad school, I had to look into different ways to pay my tuition bills. The con of getting an MBA is that there aren’t many scholarship options out there, and tuition is steep. The expectation is that those who get their MBAs are going to reap the financial rewards long term, so they can handle the bigger amounts. That doesn’t make it any easier to swallow, though, when you’re just starting out.
However, with finances, I’m a fan of a little creativity. There are multiple avenues that you can seek out to pay for your education, borrowing a little here, a little there, paying for some yourself, and even getting some of it paid for free. Take a look:
- Student Loans. This is the first, most obvious option. However, student loans for graduate school are wide and varied. First, check with your program. They may have partnered with a financial institution already, which makes the process much easier. Additionally, you may even qualify for federal aid. Your admissions and financial aid office can help answer these questions—I really took advantage of mine. If you’re getting private loans, do some research. Different institutions may be able to offer you different terms and rates. You’ll want to find as low a rate as possible, since it may take you a decade or so to pay these amounts off.
- Company Assistance. Many companies these days offer tuition reimbursement. However, be aware that this is more like “borrowing” money than you think. Often, as in my case, there is a clause that says you have to continue working for that company for a certain number of years, or else you will have to pay that money back. Talk with your human resources contact to find out the details. Many schools will also allow you to pay for a quarter or semester after the fact. This gives you the time you need to submit your grades to your company and get your reimbursement check first before you have to shell out thousands of bucks.
- Scholarships. Okay—I know I said there weren’t many scholarships for MBAs above… but there are some! Usually, they’re organized by the school. I received one in my last quarter of graduate school for $1,500—a nice chunk of change to apply to my bill! All I had to do was write an essay and submit my resume and career plans. These are usually announced at the beginning of a term, so check your announcements board at school or contact the administration office to find out more.
- Yourself. I know it may not seem feasible, but paying for something huge like education is possible to do if you make it a priority. Like saving for any big purchase, it requires sacrifice. However, if you can set aside enough money to pay for at least a few classes a year, you’ll save yourself the interest from borrowing that money and be free from a super-large debt load!