With an MBA under your belt, higher salaries are likely to come your way. "The average salary, according to the 2007 Global MBA Graduate Survey was $88,600." But the challenge is how to come up with upwards of between $40,000 and $60,000 a year to finance your way through business school so that you can get that higher salary. So, you need to start considering the different funding options available out there, from government grants to private loans, scholarships to corporate sponsorships.
Financial aid options vary at each school. So once you decide on which school you want to attend, your best bet is to visit the financial aid office or check out the school's website. For instance, Darden has an arrangement with Bank of America in which students (both international and domestic) can borrow the total expected student budget without a co-signer. Similarly, INSEAD has an arrangement with ABN AMRO.
Going into debt isn't the only way to get your MBA. There are a host of scholarships and fellowships that are available. You can do a web search to see what kinds of scholarships are out there.
Your best bet though, is to check in with the respective school financial aid office. Once you've secured your loans, your main concern during school is proper debt management which means making intelligent spending habits. Once you graduate, you'll soon have to start paying back those loans. And the payback options available vary.
With proper planning and research, you can find a myriad of ways to finance your MBA. Always see MBA as an investment, and you have to ask yourself if that's an investment you want to make. "One of the intangibles that is difficult to measure-in purely quantitative terms-is: How do you put a price on the kinds of opportunities that are available to you, after you have this credential, that weren't available to you before you went to school? That's what really makes the degree as transformative as it is."
IF YOU fancy yourself as a globetrotting executive it makes sense to start as you mean to go on and hop on a plane to a business school. You can absorb a range of cultural experiences while gaining your MBA - what is more, it can be cheaper than studying at home.
Steve White, a Brit who recently graduated from Tuck Business School in the US, took some classes in the US and UK before deciding where to apply. "The energy in the classroom is just at a higher level in the US. You got a real feeling that anything is possible; there is a buzz that I just didn't get in the UK."
Most US schools offer financial assistance programmes - loans with favourable interest rates and payment terms. White was given $40,000 in the first year and $44,000 in the second year of studying at Tuck.
There are other opportunities to finance your stay abroad too. Ten-week internships between the first and second year of study are common and can add $10,000-$20,000 to the piggy bank. Many schools also offer the chance to take on some tutoring work in the second year; this can net about $15-$22 an hour.
Other things to bear in mind when considering studying abroad are the cost of living in the country where you are headed and using your assets back home to raise funds - renting out property for instance.
There are also plenty of scholarships aimed at International students who want to study away from home - some are school-specific, such as the Kennedy Memorial Trust [www.kentrust.demon.co.uk] for those who want to study at Harvard or MIT, or Louise Franck Scholarships at INSEAD [www.insead.edu]. It is a good idea to check individual school websites.
Other monetary aid schemes are country-specific, such as the US-UK Fulbright scholarships [www.fulbright.co.uk] or BUNAC Educational Scholarships [www.bunac.org/uk/awards]. All of which goes to show that money doesn't have to be a barrier to signing up for an MBA abroad.
David Simpson, the senior manager of MBA marketing and admissions at London Business School (LBS), says: "We advise prospective students to really plan ahead and build a funding portfolio from as many different sources as possible. There is money out there and they should take advantage of the opportunities."
LBS estimates that more than 40 per cent of International students beginning the full-time MBA course there next year will have some form of scholarship. Most MBA students, though, use a variety of funding options, including loans, company sponsorships, bursaries, scholarships and savings.
The mode of funding chosen to fund study tends to vary depending on the type of MBA course - the majority of those taking a part-time MBA are sponsored by an employer, while most of those on full-time courses tend to fund themselves.
When calculating MBA finances, prospective students need to consider three things: course tuition fees; living expenses; and what are known at business schools as "opportunity costs" - the money lost because you are not working. But it is not all spend, spend, spend, MBA study also brings earning opportunities: internships and projects can generate cash, and job offers made during the course sometimes bring signing-on bonuses and sponsorships.
So even though you still might have time, it is best to start thinking about how you plan you finance your MBA.