MBA Financial Aid

The Options for Getting Financial Aid

Most studies show that an MBA pays off in terms of higher income. But for those who graduate with large student debts, that payoff may be bittersweet. Business Week recently conducted a survey of the business schools with the highest debt burdens and found that at the five worst schools in this category the average debt burden at graduation was in excess of $80,000.

Applying for financial aid varies widely from school to school. At Harvard Business School, for example, students can only apply for financial aid after they have been admitted. Admissions are need-blind and aid is awarded based on need only. Columbia Business School offers merrit-based fellowships and need merrit-based scholarships. Some other business schools, including Stanford's, offer loan forgiveness for students entering non-profit of public-sector jobs.

For those looking to borrow through student loans, there are many sources of student loans, with one of the most popular being the federal government. The best place to begin seeking student loans is through the government's Free Application for for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is required for federal aid and often for state aid or college aid too. The FAFSA is used by most colleges to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants, educational loans, and work-study programs.

Tuition reimbursement or employee sponsorship is also a common method of paying for business school. This option is for students who go to school part time, and may require the student to agree to continue working for the same company through completion of the degree and for a certain amount of years afterwards.

Be sure to read the fine print when applying for loans, scholarships or grant money. Many aid packages have very specific requirements and you would not want to go through the effort of applying only to realize that you do not qualify or that it comes with stipulations that you cannot meet. There are also many reports of student loan scams, so take care to do your due dilligence.

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