11 Tips for Financing an MBA

Aug. 5, 2022

Eller Business Blog

Give your best tip for someone looking to finance an MBA?

To help you find the best sources to finance your MBA, we asked Eller alumni and business leaders this question for their best advice. From applying for scholarships and assistantships to factoring in savings and crowdfunding, there are several tips that may help you secure sufficient funding to finance your MBA education.

Here are 11 tips for financing an MBA:

  • Apply for Scholarships or Assistantships
  • Look into Work-Study Programs and Tuition Reimbursement
  • Determine a Realistic Budget With Some Flexibility
  • Explore International Opportunities for Better Options
  • Consult With MBA Financial Aid Officers
  • Seek Free Business Advice and Knowledge on Twitter
  • Show Gratitude and Humility in Your Scholarship Applications
  • Target Industry-Specific Scholarships and Awards
  • Find Fellowships Fitting Your Unique Experiences.
  • Ask About Employer Assistance
  • Factor in Savings and Seek Crowdfunding

Apply for Scholarships or Assistantships 

Most business schools offer scholarships to incoming students. These scholarships are based on test scores (GMAT/GRE), student profiles, and other criteria. Try to get a scholarship by showcasing an excellent profile and high test scores. Secondly, there are plenty of graduate assistantship opportunities for MBA candidates, which will pay you by the hour and allow you to learn something new.

Deepak Udupa, MS & MBA Management Information Systems, ‘20, Terkel

Look into Work-Study Programs and Tuition Reimbursement

There are several common ways to finance an MBA. Applying for financial aid grants and federal loans are on the top list for conventional ways to fund an MBA.  If you’re a person with good credit, using one or a few private loans may be an option. Federal work-study programs and employer tuition reimbursement are growing more popular for students who aim to balance work/school and life. Full and partial scholarships are also great ways to fund an MBA. However, contingency plans are always good to have when stepping into one of these options.

Areale Hanks, MBA ‘22, Forbes | Footwear & Co.

Determine a Realistic Budget With Some Flexibility

When getting an MBA, it's important to understand how much tuition was at each school and what potential scholarship options are available. Once you do that, figure out the range of day-to-day living expenses such as rent, food, and transportation. Once you enter school, it will definitely end up being more expensive than you initially planned due to social events and trips. The best thing I can recommend in order to fill in those gaps is finding some kind of side-hustle such as uber driving, online surveys, focus groups, etc. Budgeting is all about being in control of not just your expenses, but your income.

Evan Reed, BS Marketing, The Wonderful Company

Explore International Opportunities for Better Options

If you have citizenship outside of the US, several international options in Europe cover nearly the entire cost of tuition. France, for example, offers financing programs for French and EU residents that covers up to 90% of tuition costs and some additional expenses. For many American students with a European-born parent, pursuing dual citizenship and an MBA overseas is more cost-effective than trying to finance their education in the US. Many European banks also offer low-interest loans to students of any nationality attending European MBA programs. If you can secure the scholarships, study domestically; otherwise, check out your international options to broaden your horizons.

Jason Panzer, Hexclad

Consult With MBA Financial Aid Officers

Consult with MBA financial aid officers. Express your eagerness to study at the business school, be straightforward about your financial constraints, and prove your skills in the workplace. They can help you figure out ways to reduce school fees, refer you to organizations that subsidize business studies, or provide an extensive list of scholarships to apply for. Financial aid officers can even share tips on how to pass the selection stage. While email works, it’s recommended to have an in-person meeting or a video conference for a more personable and productive conversation.

Abe Breuer, VIP To Go

Seek Free Business Advice and Knowledge on Twitter

If you can finance an MBA, you should. But the fact is, with inflation rising, not everyone can afford the cost of an MBA. With that being said, do not underestimate the power of Twitter for free business advice from Silicon Valley titans. It is incredible how much free business wisdom is shared every day on the platform. Before social media, this type of knowledge transfer was typically gated and reserved for only those who could afford to access it. Digital media has changed that by removing the traditional gatekeepers. The rise of online courses and certifications has also changed the paradigm. Do not overextend yourself if you can't afford to finance an MBA. Timing is everything. If you can't afford to finance an MBA now, wait until you can, and until then, soak up as much free knowledge as you can on Twitter.

Kristen Ruby, Ruby Media Group

Show Gratitude and Humility in Your Scholarship Applications

Show your gratitude. When applying for a scholarship demonstrate how much you would appreciate it and how it would help you. Admissions experts agree that when presented with candidates with similar qualifications, the one who shows humility and thankfulness wins the scholarship every time over a candidate without such qualities. In business school and beyond remember that humility will always be an important life and leadership trait.

Jeff Goodwin, Orgain

Target Industry-Specific Scholarships and Awards

Look for industry scholarships. A great way to finance an MBA is to target awards and scholarships that are specific to your business niche. For example, if you’re wanting to get an MBA in Entrepreneurship, investigate what scholarships are out there for someone looking to get a degree in entrepreneurship. This is a great approach because unlike larger, more well-known scholarships, choosing a niche industry will reduce your competition and increase your likelihood of being chosen. It will take time and effort to research what industry scholarships and awards are out there for you, but it’s well worth it.

Staci Brinkman, Sips by

Find Fellowships Fitting Your Unique Experiences

One way to attain financial assistance in an MBA program is to go to the school that offers you the best fellowship opportunity. Typically, third-party partners sponsor these fellowships based on merit, nationality, or other distinctive background features. Although competitive, these fellowships represent opportunities for different demographics to pave a realistic route to affording their MBA degrees. Several minority classifications are up for exclusive fellowship opportunities including those for People of Color, Native or Indigenous students, and LGBTQ+ students. Leverage your identity, unique skills, experience, or other identifying factors to secure your spot in a fellowship program fitting your needs or career direction.

Kevin Miller, Co-founder & CEO

Ask About Employer Assistance

Check with your employer about tuition assistance. After filling out the FAFSA and applying for relevant scholarships, it’s worth it to pitch funding assistance to your company. Many employers now recognize the value and return on investment for helping their employees receive higher education and valuable training. If you’re planning on earning your MBA, look into accelerated programs and ask your boss about funding opportunities; it will pay off.

Alexandra Fennell, Attn: Grace

Factor in Savings and Seek Crowdfunding

I think one of the most overlooked factors, which should be the main way of financing your MBA, is your personal savings. Start saving now for your dream career, so you can stay confident, and become less dependent. Additionally, get help from crowdfunding. Visit websites like GoFundMe and start crowdfunding campaigns to hopefully get enough funds so you can start your MBA degree. Or, consider your network to supplement funds: take the support of your family members and friends. Using multiple channels for financing your MBA degree, you can gather enough financial resources relatively easily. And it’s better than taking student loans that always hang like a sword on your head.

Robert Warner, Virtual Valley

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