Dig deep: The best ways to fund your course

MBAs can open the door to high-flying careers – but they don’t come cheap, warns Michael Prest

After a house and a car, an MBA is one of the biggest single outlays you're ever likely to make. A well-ranked UK school typically charges around £20,000 for a full-time, one-year degree. This rises to about £50,000 at the London Business School, where courses take 15 to 21 months. For most graduates it's a good investment; career prospects and commensurate earnings increase significantly. But how will you fund it?

All schools urge candidates to think carefully. "We advise our candidates that a variety of sources of funding are available. They should spend time looking at options as well as choosing the right school," says Stephen Chadwick, the MBA programme director at London Business School. The school's website lists more than 150 sources of financial assistance, many of which are available to applicants of any UK school.

There are four main sources of funding: yourself, your employer, bank loans and scholarships. Recent research by the Association of MBAs (AMBA), one of the leading bodies that accredit business schools, says that about half of MBA students fund themselves; 32 per cent are sponsored by a company; about 10 per cent are financed mainly by bank loans; 7 per cent chiefly by scholarships; and 1 per cent by redundancy payments.

Despite the recession, this breakdown hasn't changed. "We've always found full-time students generally self-fund. I wouldn't say there's much of a change," says Elaine Kay, MBA programmes manager for Nottingham University Business School. Self-funding, though, is an umbrella term. Apart from a student's savings, it includes family help.

This is especially true of students from outside the EU. "There are some parts of the world, like the Gulf, where funding doesn't seem to be an issue," says Mary Landen, director of MBA admissions at Leeds University Business School. Indian families also have a tradition of paying for members to study abroad to further their fortunes.

Employers have long been an important source of fees for business schools, mainly financing employees to study part-time for executive MBAs. Applications for these degrees have held up well given the economy and a tendency for employers to demand employees contribute more towards their studies. "Some employers see help with an MBA as a substitute for a pay rise," says Lindsay Duke, postgraduate student recruitment manager at Durham Business School. "Up to 18 months ago, most executive MBAs were getting part-funding at least. Now some employers are being harsh, offering no funding or time off and requiring employees to study in their annual leave."

Nonetheless, some companies are generous as ever. Vodafone and Santander sponsor students from anywhere in their companies to study for the full-time MBA at London Business School. Companies are showing more interest in sponsored MBAs, degrees tailored with a business school specifically for a company's employees.

"We've seen more demand for in-company MBAs," says Melissa McCrindle, head of marketing for Strathclyde Business School. She thinks companies may see these as a more economic way of training managers that standard MBAs; they also reduce the risk of employees leaving for greener pastures with their new degrees.

Loans can rescue those unfortunate enough to lack deep pockets or a generous boss. Some schools have their own arrangements with banks, as London Business School has with HSBC. Prospective MBA students may also be eligible for help under the government's career development loan scheme, provided through Barclays, the Clydesdale Bank, the Co-operative Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

All these forms of funding can be topped up with scholarships. This part of the funding mix has become more popular. "We do see an increase in the number of scholarships and bursaries," says Landen. Most schools offer scholarships, typically for up to half of the fees. Some are earmarked for particular candidates, such as women, foreign students and former armed services personnel. Several, including one for full tuition and living costs, are available for students taking the MBA at Nottingham's International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility.

Increasingly, scholarships are a competitive weapon between schools. "Don't say you're looking for a 100 per cent scholarship," warns Duke. Schools try to award scholarships only on merit, defined as a combination of academic excellence, work experience, leadership skills and the ability to be an ambassador for the school. Hardship is not generally a criterion, although schools generally help students who run into financial difficulties during their course.

Many schools offer discounts to graduates of their university; some also offer discounts for candidates who accept an offer by a given date. In other cases, you can use a pay-as-you-go basis. Many earn while studying: at London Business School, students last year made £965 a week on average. That should make a decent dent even in London Business School's fees.

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Client Services Analyst (SQL, Financial Services, Graduate,VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Client Services Analyst (SQL, Financial Se...

First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Economics, Finance)

£23000 per annum: Harrington Starr: First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Ec...

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition