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 will 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.

Sponsorship

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, however, look carefully at your obligations before accepting this kind of sponsorship.

Scholarships

There is 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.

Loans

Professional and Careers Development Loans are available through an arrangement between the Learning and Skills Council and three high street banks.

Visit Lifelong Learning and Directgov for details.

Several banks offer special terms on loans to MBA students. The Association of MBAs, for example, offers loans to MBA students financed by NatWest. Generally lower interest rates are offered to students and there may be the option of delaying repayments until your course is finished. Remember that your earning power should increase after doing an MBA, so a loan will be easier to pay off in the future than it would now.

Self-funding

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.