Outside of the tuition fee price tag, you also need to consider living expenses, healthcare, and extracurricular activities. All in all, it’s a big investment.
Although many students and grads agree that an MBA is worth the cost, it’s a good idea to adopt a money-saving mindset while at business school to reduce any stress and help you make the most out of your experience.
Here are some useful money-saving tips shared by MBA students and business school experts to help you stick to your budget.
1. Give yourself enough time to prepare financially
Given the high cost of an MBA, no preparation is too much preparation when it comes to your finances. You’ll need to plan ahead and think about how the smart financial decisions you make now could benefit you later on.
This is especially true if you’re relying on credit cards or loans to cover the cost of your degree.
“If you are financing your MBA, you will want to maintain a strong credit score and do your best to reduce any outstanding balance on credit cards,” says Eddie Asbie, director of admissions at Cornell University SC Johnson College of Business.
As you’ll be giving up your full-time role, you’ll likely need to stick to a strict budget while studying for your MBA. Get into the habit of budgeting early to prevent any unnecessary spending and put any excess money into a savings account.
“We advise students to spend as long on planning their finances as they do in applying for MBAs,” says David Simpson, recruitment and admissions director at London Business School.
2. Keep a buffer for additional expenses
During an MBA degree, unexpected costs are likely to arise, so having some financial flexibility will help to alleviate the strain on your budget.
These costs could include tickets for networking events or conferences, recruitment fairs, joining an MBA club, or socializing with your cohort.
“It’s important to remember that the MBA program extends beyond the classroom academics and outside experiences are a huge part of it,” says Priyal Keni, MBA student at London Business School.
While your personal budget may not stretch enough to take part in all MBA extracurricular events and activities, setting a monthly buffer aside for these expenses will ensure you don’t miss out.
“I started viewing these expenditures not as recurring costs, but as investments in building relationships and expanding my network. The shift in perspective allowed me to prioritize which expenses were essential,” says Priyal.
3. Apply for MBA scholarships
MBA scholarships are a great way to lessen the financial impact of studying an MBA degree, with some business schools offering generous full tuition fee cover.
There are also a huge range of private scholarships such as the Forté Fellowship, Reaching Out MBA, or the 30% Club Scholarship, which will help to offset the cost of studying.
“Start your research early to give yourself the best chance of receiving an award,” says Anna Kerns, associate director of financial aid at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.
If you’re unsure where to start, the financial aid office of your target business schools will help to point you in the right direction.
4. Consider your living arrangements carefully
If you’re moving to study out-of-state or abroad, living expenses can be a big contribution to the overall cost of studying an MBA degree. This is especially true as the cost of living has increased almost all over the world in the past year.
However, there are some ways you can lighten your living costs while still getting the full MBA experience.
For example, finding roommates to live with will significantly reduce your monthly expenses on rent and bills. It’s also a good idea to find accommodation close to campus to save on travel expenses.
Be quick though—affordable accommodation near campus will be the first to go, so as soon as you’re accepted into a program, make this your top priority.
5. Use the business school resources and facilities available
A business school campus is full of useful resources that you should make the most of while studying.
“Many resources may already be part of tuition such as libraries, fitness centers, and online resources, which can help you avoid spending money on similar services outside,” says Irina Schneider-Maunoury, senior associate director of financial aid at INSEAD.
While these may seem like small costs, everything adds up and the money you save on going to the library instead of buying new books, or using your business school gym, can go towards other expenses.
While you may be a little strapped for cash during your MBA degree, it’s important to keep in mind the long-term investment you are making in your personal and professional development.
If you make the most out of business school, it’s likely you’ll quickly be able to pay off your debts and replenish your savings account.