If you’re serious about going back to school, you need to get serious about planning for it financially. Start saving money, settle for your old car for a couple more years, put off those big purchases, consider negotiating a low-interest loan from a family member. Also, become very familiar with these basic education funding mechanisms:
To be eligible for any federal loans, students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Federal Stafford Loans for up to $18,500 per year have variable interest rates. The government will pay all the interest on the loan while you’re in school if you demonstrate financial need. If you are eligible, the Federal Perkins loan will pay up to $6,000 per year and is interest-free while you are in school. Many schools also offer their own loan programs.
Corporate Tuition Support
Some companies will pay for their employees to pursue a part-time or executive MBA program, or even a full-time program. Check your HR office to find out about educational benefits. Keep in mind that companies often provide your tuition support based on your grads, which is extra incentive to study.
Most business schools also offer need-based and/or merit-based scholarships or fellowships, including scholarships from the Forté Foundation. Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth considers all students who apply for financial aid for scholarships. The school is also a member of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and awards scholarships to select students through that program. Harvard Business School’s HBS Fellowships are awarded based on need, and 46 percent of the class of 2006 received a Fellowship their first year, according to the HBS website. At Yale School of Management, all students are automatically considered for a long list of merit-based scholarships no separate application is required.
While schools recognize the cost of education and provide extensive resources, there are several venues for outside scholarships. Many school websites list URLs for scholarship searches, including FastWeb, FinAid, and the American Association of University Women. There are scholarships for U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and others for international students such as Rotary International and the International Education Financial Aid.