Many business-oriented professionals put off pursuing their MBAs because they worry about the cash required to finance their education. While a top-notch school does mean a financial outlay, it’s possible to put yourself through school without turning your personal finances upside down.
1. Tally Your Taxes
The U.S. government rewards students who pursue higher education. Tax credits allow you to deduct part of your tuition so you carry less of a financial burden. Consider consulting with a tax professional, such as a CPA (certified public accountant) or tax attorney. You have several options, so think through them all to find the one that best suits your financial circumstances.
2. Inquire About Incentives
Talk to your current employer about educational incentive programs. Many companies recognize that paying for tuition enhances their employees’ value to the business. You put your newly acquired skills to work for your employer, and in return you receive a reduced bill for your classes.
Some employers pay 100 percent of tuition for employees, while others pay a smaller percentage. Review your employee handbook or hiring documents before you approach your employer or the human resources department. You’ll want to know the company’s stance before you attempt to negotiate.
3. Mine Your Memberships
Greek, fraternal, trade, and social organizations often help their members with grad school tuition. They might offer scholarships to deserving people or grants for future research or work. Your school might even provide assistance for students in MBA programs. Use all your connections to find sources of revenue that might lower your personal financial load.
4. Assess and Accelerate
Try to pursue your MBA when you have plenty of free time. Accelerated programs often allow you to earn your degree within 18 months, but make sure you have enough time to complete the coursework. An accelerated program reduces the time spent in school and, therefore, decreases your net tuition expenses.
5. Cut Out the Classroom
You don’t need an auditorium equipped with 300 hard plastic seats to earn an advanced degree. Through an online MBA program, you can cut the costs of education while still absorbing the material. As long as you have a home computer, you can take advantage of these opportunities.
An online program eliminates the need to attend a physical meeting every day. Instead, you work around your classes to meet all of your obligations. If you work a full-time job, complete your coursework in the evenings or on weekends so you don’t lose that necessary paycheck.
6. Cover Your Costs — But No More
If you borrow money to finance your MBA education, crunch the numbers before you apply. Don’t accept a loan in excess of what you need because you’ll pay interest on every cent. Instead, figure out exactly how much money you need to cover tuition and other expenses. If a bank or credit union offers more, decline it.
Your education remains your most important asset in the business world. It’s worth more than your house, your car, or any other physical possession. If you focus on smart financing decisions, you’ll earn your MBA without putting your finances in the red for years to come.