Six Steps to Financing Your MBA

Even though you may be just beginning the graduate business school admission process, it’s never too early to think about how you will pay for your education. The MBA journey begins with just seven steps.

1. Know why you want to go to graduate school.

Wise investors know beforehand what they desire from a given investment. What long term goal do you hope to achieve by going to graduate business school? Do you seek a better paying job? Or are you looking for a prestigious career? Whatever your reason, having a specific goal is essential to success in graduate business school. Keeping focused on your goal also allows you to maximize the benefits of your graduate business degree after you graduate.

2. Apply to the graduate business schools that are right for you.

Different investments meet different goals. The same holds true for graduate business schools. Different schools offer different programs and have different strengths. Your challenge is to find the one which best prepares you for your future. You should apply to those graduate business schools which provide you with the opportunity to focus on your career goals.

3. Begin living like a graduate business student–TODAY!

Even if you currently have a well paying job, learn to reduce your expenses now while you are applying to graduate business school. If you have credit cards, car payments or other consumer debt, treat those bills as “pre-graduate business school tuition,” which you should pay off entirely before you start school. This way, you begin school already possessing the discipline of good financial management. Also, if you receive financial aid, including student loans, it may only be used for your educational expenses rather than the expense of personal debts.

4. Meet your school’s financial aid deadlines.

Not all graduate business schools have the same deadline for submission of financial aid applications. Missing a deadline can cost you the opportunity to receive institutional scholarships, fellowships, grants or loans. Be aware of each graduate business school’s financial aid deadlines and also what forms each school requires.

5. Seek out other sources of financial assistance.

Wise investors diversify their resources. You should too. Try not to rely on financial aid for all your school expenses. Family members may be happy to help you with your education–if you ask them graciously. Even $100 per month from a family member can translate into savings of nearly $5000, if you had to borrow that same amount over three years of graduate business school. Also, consider the “roommate grant.” Housing costs are the second highest expense you will incur, next to tuition. Shared housing can help reduce that cost–again, potentially saving you thousands of dollars in additional loans and interest payments. Even bringing a bag lunch to school can be an additional financial resource, saving you as much as $100 monthly over buying your lunch every day!

6. Write down your two- and four-year plans.

Now that you have carefully prepared yourself for your graduate business school investment, you need to draw up plans for your graduate business school years and afterwards. Divide your plans into these time periods:

Years 1-2–Graduate Business School Student
Commit yourself to a modest but adequate living expense budget while in school.

Years 3-4–After Business School
This should be when your investment in graduate business school, with all of its hard work, planning and financial restraint, should begin to help you realize your goals and make repaying your student loans easy.