Navigating Financial Aid for Business School

Maybe the only thing more challenging than getting into business school is figure out how you will pay for the experience. Many say that borrowing money to pay for school is an “investment,” and not debt, but try telling that to the loan services when they send out the monthly bill.

In order to help students make the best possible choice, adhere to the following tips:

  • Know the true cost of the education. Pay very close attention to not only the current tuition, but also the inflation rate at that school. Some universities are seeing tuition go up more rapidly than others, so it makes sense to project the cost for the following year (or years) as well as simply looking at the tuition and cost for the first year.
  • Carefully calculate the ultimate balance on unsubsidized and private loans. $100,000 in loans is a lot of money, but it is really a lot of money when the interest kicks in immediately and keeps accumulating for the life of a 10-year loan period. Make sure to work with financial aid officers to figure out how much you will ultimately shell out by the time you finish making payments. Any differences in “free money” between school A and B will only become more exaggerated over time
  • At least consider the enrollment decision in purely financial terms. It sounds overly rigid to advise this, but considering how romantically and emotionally most students make their decisions, it will help balance things out to take a short period of time to consider this the way an accountant would.
  • Don’t fall victim to the “drop in the bucket” mentality. Most grad students find the sticker price of graduate school so shockingly high that they sort of give up before they even get started. Not only does this lead to less-than-careful review of the award letter, lack of effort in contacting the financial aid officer, and a failure to appeal for reconsideration, but it can also lead to careless spending. Seemingly small items will ultimately cost the student twice as much down the road.
  • Never stop looking for outside funding. More common among high school students with parents who see their life savings dwindling away, searching for outside scholarships is often something that slips past graduate school applicants. This is a mistake, as there are a variety of unique scholarships, fellowships, and writing competitions available for graduate students of all stripes. Most top grad programs feature a list of such resources on their websites and there are also both free and pay sites that collate these opportunities.
  • Carefully review the financial aid opportunities at every MBA program you are considering. This may seem obvious, but most applicants do not perform a thorough search of each and every scholarship and fellowship offered at the schools to which they are applying. The reason this is so important is that students may actually qualify for something they aren’t even aware of. Whether it is something fairly well known like Teach For America arrangements or something more unique, students need to perform this simple step of due diligence.

This advice has been clipped from the Veritas Prep Guide to Graduate School Financial Aid. You can download the full report for free here. For more news and analysis about grad school admissions and the MBA job market, subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

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