Funding an MBA
An MBA programme has the potential to greatly increase your earning power – at a cost. Check out the following advice about funding the cost of your study.
Indirect and direct costs
Take all potential costs into consideration when thinking about how to fund your MBA course. First, there'll be basic tuition costs, which are likely to be between £10,000 and £30,000. You'll also need to factor in study essentials such as books, stationery and a computer. Second, unless you're living at home, you'll have accommodation costs and living expenses (food, travel, bills etc). In addition, you're likely to need to give up work (even if you only move to part-time) while completing your MBA – you must include your lost earnings in any calculations. Don't forget, however, that if you've chosen your course well these earnings could be a lot more attractive once you're working again.
Length of MBA
It sounds obvious, but a one-year programme (the kind most popular in Europe) will probably, but not necessarily, cost less than a two-year one (the kind favoured by North American institutions). You'll certainly be out of the job market for a shorter period of time.
Some MBA courses are sponsored by employers and are offered as joint higher education/employer programmes. But there's generally a requirement that the student continues working part time for the company while studying, and at the very least returns once the MBA is achieved for a stated minimum amount of time. If you love your job and employer and are not seeking a career change this is probably a very good option for you. If you've got itchy feet, do look carefully at your obligations before accepting this kind of sponsorship.
There are a variety of different scholarships available from the business schools themselves. The best thing is to approach schools you're interested in and ask what's on offer. Scholarships are generally given on merit so make sure you can put a good case forward for yourself to the school.
In addition, various charities and business organisations, such as the Fulbright Council (for UK students to study in the US and vice versa) and the Rotary Foundation, offer scholarships to business school students – again, check out their websites. There's also the International Education Financial Aid organisation, for students wishing to study in a foreign country. The Association of MBAs website has many useful funding links.
Several different loan options are available to MBA students, each with differing eligibility and repayment criteria.
PGL student loans for masters students
MBA students normally resident in England or EU may be eligible for a government-backed postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for a masters or MBA course at a university in the UK.
Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL) of £300–£10,000 are available through an arrangement with The Co-operative Bank (Barclays stopped accepting new applications in July). Although PCDLs are commercial loans, the government picks up the tab for the interest on the loan while you are studying. Visit gov.uk for details.
Private student finance companies
A number of private firms are now working with business schools at selected universities to offer postgraduate student funding schemes or arranging funding with students directly.
Prodigy Finance runs a Prodigy loan programme at Cranfield University, Imperial College Business School, London Business School, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, and the University of Strathclyde offering loans for students on MBA and specialised finance courses.
Future Finance offers student loans of between £2,500–£40,000 for tuition fees and living costs to UK, EU and overseas students studying at an accredited UK university. Future Finance loans can be used for postgraduate and undergraduate courses in any subject. Visit Future Finance for details.
Funding yourself through your MBA is always an option – whether you've saved to meet the costs of your course, work part-time to keep an income coming in or rely on the goodwill of family or a partner.
An increasing number of MBA courses are now being offered via distance learning, an interesting consideration for those planning on working through their studies or looking at courses elsewhere in the UK, EU or globally.