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Today’s post is dedicated to US students looking to finance their MBA studies or non-US students looking for ways to fund a program of study in the US.  The process of finding aid, whether it be need or merit based, can be trying although not impossible for students everywhere. In the end, you will need to decide if financing a business education is a good investment for you.

Your Options

  • Need-based Loans in the US

Both US and non-US students have the opportunity to apply for need-based loans. The process and loan providers are different for each group, however. One of the first places to look is a federal loan such as the Stafford loan, which has an 18,500 USD limit. The Stafford is available to US and non-US students but for the latter is more challenging: A non-US student must have a cosigner that is either a permanent resident or a US citizen. Some schools, such as MIT Sloan, will even commit themselves as a student’s cosigner.

The Stafford loan is a good first step because of the generally low interest rates associated with a federal loan vs. a private loan. In fact under a subsidized federal loan, the student pays no interest accrued while in school.

  • Merit-based Scholarships

Research other opportunities that your MBA program of choice offers. Merit based scholarships are a possibility and should be researched despite the difficulty and competition associated with scholarships. In many cases, non-US applicants will be placed in the same pool as US students, which increases the competition. This should not be a deterrent because if a student is not granted the scholarship they may be put into an applicant pool for a different scholarship by the organization that will be granting them the aid.

  • Alternatives

Many programs also offer Teaching Assistant positions or fellowships. Each school is different, so again, check with your programs of choice.

Some MBA program have impressive financing options. For example,Wharton has a daunting price tag at 40,000 USD per year, but students typically secure summer internships at where they can make between 10,000 and 40,000 USD. Wharton also allows the student, either US based or international, to borrow up to 130,000 USD with varying interest rates to finance the student’s education and living expenses for the two years that they will be studying. Thomas Caleel, director of MBA admissions and financial aid at Wharton describes the school as “need-blind.” Their admission is based on merit exclusively yet the school guarantees financing for any student.

  • Special Opportunities for non-US students

For non-US students, the International Education Financial Aid website offers a robust database for research financial aid and scholarship opportunities. The Institute for International Education has a similar database. Additionally, one can investigate via the US State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural affairs program called Education USA. This program is a network that provides information on studying in the US and importantly, includes information of getting aid.

Summary

  • Acquiring financial aid takes persistence, focus, and organization. Look at the website of the school you are interested in and get detailed information on the financial aid services they offer.
  • Remember: First look into a federal loan, and then do research on private loans to receive more aid. If you are not based in the US and require financial aid, research opportunities listed in the sites above.
  • Be organized in your debt management. If it is possible, go visit the school’s financial aid offices.
  • Realize that an MBA is an investment. The average salary of a MBA holder after graduation is 88,600 USD per year. It is difficult to put a price tag on the friendships, knowledge, and networks you will develop in B-School. Is this an investment you want to make?

Posted on January 9, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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