5 Alternative Ways to Finance Your MBA
Obtaining an MBA is a significant investment, and financing your studies is often the biggest obstacle you’ll face in your decision to attend to business school. That’s why it’s important to consider alternative funding options.
Merit-based scholarships, savings, bank loans, and financial support from family and friends are well-trodden funding paths. But what about other, lesser-known ways to raise money for your MBA education?
Here are five alternative ways to finance your MBA:
1. Ask your employer
While caution is advisable, you don’t always need to be concerned about telling your employer you’re considering an MBA. Many employers recognize that your advanced management education could positively impact the company. Some may offer tuition reimbursement programs as part of their benefits structure, sponsor your studies, or even allow you to take a year off to pursue your MBA.
Some employers also have programs to help train their staff that you can tap into. The U.K.’s degree apprenticeship program, for example, helps employees at many companies enroll in a part-time or Executive MBA program that is fully paid for by the U.K. government, allowing those employees to continue to work and study at the same time.
2. Consider alternative loan options
Getting a bank loan to fund your MBA isn’t easy, particularly if you’re planning to study outside your home country. However, there are alternative loan providers out there that can help.
Prodigy Finance, for example, is a company started by MBA students that provides borderless loans for international business school candidates. These loans are specifically designed for post-graduate students—you only need to start paying them back six months into your MBA and you don’t need collateral or a co-signer.
3. Crowdfund your MBA
Crowdfunding—raising small amounts of money from a large number of people online—is a tricky but potentially lucrative way to finance your MBA.
While crowdfunding your entire tuition would be complicated, using crowdfunding to contribute toward it may be more realistic. Some students who have crowdfunded their MBA give something back to their donors: free business consultancy, help with building websites, or a place to stay near their business school campus.
If you can tell an engaging, personal story about your journey to business school, you stand a fair chance of attracting crowdfunding.
4. Explore your unique scholarship opportunities
Merit-based MBA scholarships—awarded based on your previous academic or professional success—are widely known and in demand, but you can find scholarships for just about anything.
There are need-based scholarships for candidates from underprivileged backgrounds and specially-focused scholarships for women, military veterans, entrepreneurs, STEM professionals, even farmers and people in the nonprofit sector.
New York University’s Stern School of Business , for example, offers an MBA scholarship for students with careers in performing arts. The University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School offers a 20,000 GBP MBA scholarship for the LGBTQ community.
Think about your own profile, nationality, and personal and professional background, and there will likely be a scholarship opportunity out there to match.
5. Look beyond business school
Look beyond your target business schools in your search for funding. There are country-specific scholarships, like the Chevening Scholarship for the U.K., which you can apply for independently.
There are also several nonprofit organizations that offer MBA scholarship and fellowship awards. The Forté Foundation has awarded 180 million USD in fellowships to female MBA students in its quest to increase the representation of women at business schools.
The National Black MBA Association in the U.S. offers scholarships in partnership with a variety of business schools and its Leaders of Tomorrow program has provided more than 8,000 African American students with mentorship and access to further scholarship opportunities.
Doing your research, and thinking outside the box, will extend the range of funding options available to you. While financing your MBA isn’t easy, there are ways to make your MBA dreams a reality.
Marco De Novellis is the editor of BusinessBecause, an online publisher dedicated to graduate management education, and is the creator and host of the podcast, The Business School Question. Follow him on Twitter @marcodn_bb.