Paying for Business School

Business school is one of the most lucrative of all graduate degrees in its potential and proven history for embellishing salary.  It’s not just in dollars and cents, either, but manifests itself in sheer employment statistics as well. 

During the great recession which started in 2008, for example, the general unemployment rate was almost triple what it was for those holding an MBA degree.  It was also impossible to ignore the continuance of hiring freshly minted MBA graduates throughout this devastating period of economic turmoil.  While the percentage of graduating MBAs with jobs did fall slightly, overall there was a negligible number of MBAs who could not find the job they wanted at or soon after graduation during this time.   Of course if you found yourself among these “negligible numbers,” I am sure it felt like you may have made the wrong $100,000 decision. 

Therein lies the rub.  While certainly providing a good return on investment in almost every case, business school is expensive, and paying for it can be one of the most challenging fiscal endeavors you ever undertake.

The good news is the GMAC reports that one-third of MBA degree holders recouped the cost of their education in salary and bonus within a single year and all of them did so within four years, even with the cost of business school having doubled over the past ten years.  The bad news is, coming up with the money up front can be challenging, especially if you are an international applicant, in which case the schools often want demonstration of your ability to pay before they will let you matriculate.

If you have a strong profile, you should definitely apply in the first round, since this is where most of the scholarship and fellowship monies are allocated. 

Missing a first round deadline can often mean passing up on these potential cost savings.  Some schools will offer to lower tuition, while others can offer a full ride through b-school depending on your merits and the respective size of their endowment.   If you are not a fellowship candidate and have a profile that will make you feel fortunate for even getting in, you may be relieved to “have” to shell out all that money!  But how do you pay for it?  Certainly b-schools expect to see that you have successfully saved money by the time you return to school.  This is one advantage of business school over medical school or law school, which you usually embark upon immediately after you graduate college (and we all know how broke you are after college). 

Still, if you blew all that money from your job on a new car and nice digs, you will probably wind up applying for loans. 

The US government is very generous in extending credit to students, but know that student loan debt never goes away, and is actually one of the only debts which even survives bankruptcy.  Taking out a $100,000 loan to pay for school is not a small decision and that $30,000 signing bonus you may receive when you take a job at the end won’t put much of a dent in paying it off, especially if you end up spending some on other things.

The most important thing to do is to have a plan. 

Typically students combine all three methods, including spending money you have saved, borrowing some, and leveraging any scholarships or fellowships for which you are eligible.  When you combine all three, paying for business school seems less daunting.

If you are looking help with your applications, please contact us via or at We have seen what the competition is doing and we can say without a doubt that we go deeper, more strategic, and generate better results with our methods.  Line up a call and find out for yourself.