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The Average Cost of an MBA Program
Business school can be expensive. An MBA program can range from around $50,000, to more than $200,000 for a full-time, two-year program depending on the university you attend, with the top MBA schools in the country being some of the most expensive.
Though MBA programs are fairly costly, they also can have a big ROI when it comes to salary. According to Payscale.com, the average annual salary of an MBA holder is $87,000. US News reports that the average starting salary for a 2020 MBA grad will be $79,043. With more than ten years’ experience, it’s not uncommon for these numbers to top six figures.
However, your salary can swing wildly based on concentration (with consulting and financial services at the top of the pay scale and government or non-profit at the bottom).
While it’s useful to know how much you might earn after graduation, it’s also wise to plan upfront how much your MBA will cost so you choose a program you can afford. For example, if you plan to work for the government, where the average salary for an MBA holder is $74,825, you may not want to attend University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, where the cost of completing your MBA can top $200,000.
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How Much Does the Average MBA Student Borrow?
How much MBA students need to borrow can be heavily influenced by the university attended. According to CNBC, a 2018 Bloomberg Businessweek survey reported that nearly half of all students at top business schools across the globe borrowed at least $100,000, and according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average student loan balance for 2016-2017 for MBA graduates totaled $66,300.
Where to Start: Paying for Your MBA
When borrowing money for your MBA program, the first place you should always start is with grants, fellowships, scholarships, and federal student loans (MBA students may apply for unsubsidized loans and grad PLUS loans), so be sure to file the FAFSA®. Once you’ve exhausted these options you may still need additional money to cover the cost of your program and living expenses. This is where a private MBA loan may come into play.
What is an MBA Loan?
An MBA loan is a private graduate student loan specifically for those attending business school. Private student loans do not come with the same benefits as federal student loans, but the interest rates offered by various lenders may be lower and more competitive.
To qualify for an MBA Loan you must meet certain minimum eligibility standards. These include the following:
- U.S. citizen or permanent resident*
- Enrolled at least half-time as a graduate student (at an eligible institution)
- Making satisfactory academic progress (SAP)
- Have a positive, verifiable credit history — or a cosigner with a strong credit history
*Some lenders will accept applications from foreign borrowers applying with a creditworthy cosigner. The cosigner needs to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Of course, you should check with your lender to confirm eligibility requirements
How to Compare MBA Loans
When comparing MBA loans you will want to review the following:
- Interest rates
- Repayment terms
- Interest rate reductions for enrollment in auto-pay
- Benefits such as periods of forbearance for specific circumstances
- Cosigner release
- Loan minimums and maximums
MBA Loan Limits
The minimum loan amount you may be eligible to borrow for a private student loan is usually $1,000 but you will want to check with your lender.
The maximum amount you can borrow is the full cost of attendance, less other aid, as certified by your school.
Note: The maximum amount you are allowed to borrow is not necessarily indicative of the maximum amount you will qualify to borrow.
MBA Loan Interest Rates
Private MBA loans will have competitive interest rates. The rate you receive will depend on your creditworthiness, along with other factors as determined by your lender. Students with less than 2 years’ employment history may not qualify for a private MBA loan without a cosigner. If you do qualify without a cosigner, adding a cosigner with a stronger credit history may help you qualify for a lower rate.