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How to Finance Your full-time MBA

Feb 19, 2024
Discover how to finance your full-time MBA program with scholarships, financial aid, and student employment opportunities.

By Arial Starks

Pursuing a full-time MBA program can be a big investment when it comes to time, effort, and money. When considering furthering your education, you may have questions surrounding the financial lift since most full-time MBA programs don’t allow students to work full-time simultaneously as they earn their degree. While the degree may come with a hefty price tag, most MBAs would agree that the tassel is worth the hassle due to the incredible return on investment students see after graduation. If you have decided a full-time MBA is the right path for you, read below to discover ways to finance your full-time MBA.

Merit-based Scholarships & Awards

One of the most prominent ways to cover your MBA tuition and expenses is through scholarship opportunities and other financial awards. These financial awards can come from a variety of sources including through your chosen institution, partnering organizations, and external organizations. 

Pictured: Bailey McChesney, Director, MBA Admissions, in her Vanderbilt Business headshot.

Bailey McChesney

At Vanderbilt Business, all MBA applicants are automatically considered for scholarship opportunities upon admission into the program. Admitted students can be awarded merit-based scholarships equaling from $5,000 per year to full tuition, based on criteria including, but not limited to, academic achievement, leadership potential, and application strength. Many of the financial awards candidates receive are funded by Vanderbilt Business alumni and partners.

“Through the generosity of our alumni and valued partners, we are able to award more than 70% of our incoming MBA students with merit-based scholarships,” says Bailey McChesney, Director, Vanderbilt MBA Admissions. “Admitted students are automatically considered for scholarships so candidates will want to make sure that they are putting together their strongest application.”

At Vanderbilt Business, incoming students may be selected for named awards and fellowships as part of the total scholarship package. Each year, several incoming students are selected to be recipients of the Dean’s Scholars Award Program, which awards students with a full-tuition scholarship. Of the Dean’s Scholars chosen, one student is awarded an additional stipend on top of the full scholarship that may help a candidate with extra expenses.  

Several incoming students are also chosen to receive the OneOwen Essentials Award as part of the total scholarship package. This award recognizes incoming students who embody Vanderbilt Business’ guiding principles, known as Owen Essentials. Both the Dean’s Scholars Award Program and the OneOwen Essentials Award require candidates to submit an extra essay during the application process to be considered.

In partnership with the Forté Foundation and Reaching Out MBA Association (ROMBA), Vanderbilt selects incoming students for fellowships as a part of the overall scholarship package. To be considered for one of the two ROMBA Fellowships, an additional essay is required.

Financial Aid & Student Employment

Another significant way people can finance a full-time MBA is through federal financial aid and loan opportunities. Many associate the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with undergraduate degrees, but graduate-level and professional students taking full-time programs are also eligible for this form of financial assistance. While international students who are not permanent U.S. residents do not qualify for federally funded loan programs, there are other private financial aid options for these students to fund their full-time MBA if they have a U.S. citizen/permanent resident to stand in as a co-borrower. At Vanderbilt Business, international candidates have 2 private alternative loan options that do not require a co-borrower: Prodigy Finance and MPower Financing. Vanderbilt’s domestic and international MBA candidates can learn more about financial aid options by contacting the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships

“As you are looking for this next step, consider how you will fund your degree ahead of time,” McChesney says. “Understanding the cost of attendance and resources available to you will help better prepare you for the commitment. The Vanderbilt Office of Financial Aid is a great resource to help incoming students navigate this investment.”

Another option for students looking to fund their full-time MBA is through student employment opportunities. Vanderbilt Business has paid graduate work opportunities available to admitted students to make extra money. Students selected by the sponsoring professor or office for these job opportunities may work up to 20 hours per week. Positions are limited, but students may find these opportunities in the school’s What’s Happening newsletter and/or the Admitted Applicants website at the beginning of the school year. Jobs also sometimes become available throughout the school year. 

Other Resources

When considering pursuing a full-time program, it is vital that you do your research early and think outside the box about the many options out there to help fund your full-time MBA. In addition to the many scholarships & awards, financial aid, and student employment opportunities, there are options like outside scholarships and company sponsorships that students should consider.  

There are also scholarship opportunities outside of Vanderbilt for students across various marginalized groups including underrepresented minorities, people who identify as LGBTQIA+, members of the Armed Forces, women, and international students

Vanderbilt Business is committed to providing financial assistance to military members through the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides higher education tuition support for veterans looking to further their education for out-of-state and private school degree programs; and the Bass Military Scholars Program, which awards $30,000 scholarships annually to talented veterans pursuing graduate and professional-level programs such as the full-time MBA. 

“Business school is a significant investment of time and resources,” McChesney explains. “It is important to consider the earning potential you will gain over the course of your career with an MBA  and weigh the return on investment when financially planning for a program.”

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