How I Paid $2,605 for my MBA

Pursuing a post graduate degree can be expensive. Check out how I got my MBA for only $2,605!I recently posted a Tweet on Twitter about receiving an unexpected amount of scholarship money which dropped my total MBA tuition cost to just $2,605! I got plenty of congratulations and questions about how I paid so little for a career enhancing degree so I thought I would share my scholarships and how I got them.


The total cost of my one-year MBA program is a staggering $39,880! If I did not receive financial aid I would surely find myself buried under a mountain of student loan debt. Luckily I was able to advert this crisis by securing crucial scholarships before I accepted admission into the program.

I applied for my MBA the junior year of college and got accepted in fall of senior year. Along with my acceptance letter was a $5,000 scholarship towards my tuition from the school. While I was grateful for this scholarship it still left me $34,880 in the hole!

Having been a varsity swimmer at my school I was able to speak to the assistant athletic director at the school about a graduate assistant (GA) position. One of my swim teammates had a GA and they received full tuition and a stipend that was enough to cover her rent and other expenses. While I knew I could not receive this position, due to regulations by the NCAA, I hoped to get a deal similar to hers. I was in luck and got an offer that I was and am most grateful for that paid full tuition for my fall and spring semesters along with a small stipend that was enough to cover my rent. This now eliminated two major cost for two semesters, tuition and rent!

All of a sudden I found myself having only the summer semester’s tuition to pay for. While the summer semester was cheaper it still cost $9,900 for 3 classes! If I subtracted the $5,000 scholarship from the MBA program my cost for summer was $4,900. This was more than my parents had planned on spending seeing that my younger sibling is enrolled in med school which we all know is quite expensive. Nevertheless they pulled me through financially and I am most grateful to them just as I am towards my generous university and all those individuals who helped me.

This was not the end of my scholarships though… one week after we paid the summer bill I got a letter in the mail saying I won an award of $2,395 for my tuition. To this day I still have no idea why I received this award and who chose me for it but I intend to pursue the source of this mystery money to tell them thank you! This surprise scholarship dropped my total tuition down to a mere $2,605 which I think was a great price for an MBA that I expect to make me thousands of dollars in extra income later on in my career.

Here is a breakdown of my scholarships:

Scholarship Amount ($)
MBA Scholarship 5,000
Mercedes Benz/MBA Award (The mystery) 2,395
Athletic Graduate Assistant 29,980


How can you reduce the cost of a graduate degree?

Talking to people has made me realized that many people just accept student loans. This is scary! Millennials on average graduate with over $30,000 in student loans from their undergraduate degree which sets them back early on in life. Rather than accepting student loans, let’s look at some ways you can reduce the cost of pursuing a graduate degree:

  • Graduate assistant – If you intend to leave your job to pursue a degree inquire out a GA position. Many schools offer them in various roles and they usually cover a large chunk of the tuition. I had several friends that worked in administration, athletics, and other jobs around campus that paid for their tuition.
  • Ask your employer – Many employers are willing to pay for advanced degrees if they are in a related field to your job. Simply reach out to them and see if they will pay for your degree or what deals they offer.
  • Ask Financial Aid – You will be amazed at how generous the financial aid office can be sometimes. If you do not ask you will not receive, unless you get extremely lucky like myself. Ask questions and you may get favorable answers. It does not matter how big or small a scholarship may be, the reduction in cost is what matters!
  • Online search – There are thousands of scholarships online that many people do not apply for. There are scholarships for high GPAs, your race, your nationality and much more. Simply type in graduate school scholarships and a host of websites will appear. Apply to a few and hope that you land one or more scholarships!
  • Consider an in-state school – In-state schools are traditionally cheaper due to subsidized cost by the state which results in lower tuition.
  • Consider where you live ­– How far will your school be from your home? Will you have to live in dorms, off-campus or can you commute from home? Living at home or even off-campus is significantly cheaper than living in dorms which will drive down the total cost of the degree.
  • Part of an organization? – I am part of Beta Gamma Sigma, an honors business fraternity, which offers partial payment of any additional education I partake in. Unfortunately they did not sponsor my one-year MBA otherwise my cost would be even lower. Anyways… if you are part of the military or any organizations like I am they may lower the cost of your tuition.

All in all I ended up paying more for rent expense that I did tuition for my MBA! Thankfully my stipend covered my rent payments and the job I worked at hired me for the summer which covered my summer living expenses. Simply asking some questions to the right people can lead to major scholarship awards.

Have you ever considered pursuing a graduate degree? Were you able to get it at a significant discounts? If so, how?

92 comments… add one
  • Lindsay @ The Notorious D.E.B.T. Jul 3, 2016, 12:44 pm

    Nice! I’ve heard MBAs can be expensive. I graduated a couple years ago with an MS myself, and it was funded entirely through teaching and research assistantships, plus a couple scholarships. I ended up paying about $3,300 out of pocket for it over the course of three years, and the money I received through the TA and RA-ships amounted to about $78,000 over the same time period. Sometimes I like to joke with friends now that I was paid more as a grad student than as an actual employee now that I’m out in the real world. :/

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 3, 2016, 7:57 pm

      Graduate degrees are awfully expensive but if you can get them funded like yourself they are certainly worth the cost. Paying $3,300 is an amazing accomplishment so congrats on that! Thanks for commenting!

  • Jen@FrugalSteppingStones Jul 3, 2016, 2:42 pm

    I am getting my master’s in nursing education, and we are paying cash for grad school. I am not eligible for tuition reimbursement since I am a float pool worker. No GA positions would be available for my online distance program, but I have been applying for scholarships like mad, and recently got a $2500 one. My program is about $28000-29000. If I was able to work full time as an educator for 4 years after graduating, most of that could be forgiven thanks to the nurse educator shortage, but that’s not something I can do with my young children.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 3, 2016, 7:59 pm

      I could not imagine doing that with young children so props to you. Good job on applying for scholarships and getting one! Hoping you get more to drive that cost down even more.

  • Dividend Diplomats Jul 3, 2016, 2:50 pm

    Heck yeah Stefan! Way to push that cost down to basically nothing. That is an impressive job of reducing the cost of your degree. The GA position was huge. The examples you provide are awesome. I was shocked with how many scholarships are available online and only require a simple application online. They make it so easy now to sign up and get a reward. Quite frankly, I wish I would have done more of that myself when I was in high school.

    Congrats on the MBA and keep on inspiring others to push down the cost of college!


    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 3, 2016, 8:00 pm

      Appreciate it Bert! The GA position was a life saver otherwise I likely would not have done my MBA. It is very easy to apply for scholarships and many people don’t take advantage of it which baffles me. Thanks for commenting

  • tina Jul 3, 2016, 5:27 pm

    Congratulations on receiving your MBA and also on the talents with which you accomplished this feat. Being able to secure these scholarships is a tribute to your intelligence and perseverance. Now is the time to go forth and use that education to better yourself and the world around you!!

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 3, 2016, 8:01 pm

      Thanks Tina! It was no easy feat to secure them but it was definitely worth it, appreciate you stopping by.

  • Melanie Frost Jul 3, 2016, 8:56 pm

    That’s incredible! Congrats on your accomplishments. Tuition has increased exponentially since I was in school. But now that I have a son who will be going to college in the future, these are things I’m definitely going to look into for him. Never thought of a GA position. What a great idea

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 12:48 am

      Explore every option there are tons of saving opportunities out there! Don’t forget to use a 529 plan as well

  • Jon Jul 3, 2016, 9:20 pm

    Way to go Stefan! I think you’ll find the investment worth it. Even though it was small. I was fortunate to receive a full academic scholarship for my MBA several years ago and it has been a great career enhancer. Good job on the price!

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 12:49 am

      Thanks Jon! Getting a full scholarship is very impressive hope to read about it someday!

  • Lakisha Jul 3, 2016, 9:40 pm

    I’m so happy that your expenses were covered. It’s so funny because I was speaking with my job regarding my tuition and found out they do help out. I just have to convince them an English degree will be an asset to the business. LOL

    Best wishes with school.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 12:49 am

      Glad you asked! Hopefully they see the benefit in that degree

  • Amanda @ centsiblyrich Jul 3, 2016, 10:11 pm

    That’s amazing, Stefan! And great list for ways to lower the cost of the grad degree.

    I second looking into a GA position. Way back when I was in grad school, I worked as a GA for two years (though it didn’t pay as well as yours!). Although I was given a check each month, I remember very clearly walking the check directly to the business office to put toward my tuition. This helped to cut my cost by about half, or approximately $18,000.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 12:52 am

      GA position was a blessing! Glad you got to cut your cost in half that is better than most people! Sure it served you well throughout your career. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Sarah Bailey Jul 3, 2016, 10:51 pm

    It is great there are some ways to help bring down the cost of education. x

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 12:52 am

      Definitely are! Always an opportunity just need to find it.

      • Sarah Bailey Jul 4, 2016, 5:53 pm

        Yes – you just have to know the right places to look and education is definitely something that should be accessible by all who want to partake. x

  • Blossom Jul 3, 2016, 11:24 pm

    Glad you were able to pay for college! I’m still knee-hi in debt because I applied for EXPENSIVE schools. Scholarship searching was fun when it lasted, but then I started getting into blogging and had no time. Anyways, thanks for sharing!

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:24 pm

      Anything that is not a state school will likely be expensive. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Catherine Jul 4, 2016, 12:23 am

    Great tips! Wish I would have known this when I was going to school.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:24 pm


  • Elizabeth O. Jul 4, 2016, 3:47 am

    That’s quite amazing and congratulations for getting your MBA! I think this will help a lot of people and I appreciate how detailed your tips are. This is definitely a huge opportunity for those who would like to continue their education.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:24 pm

      Hopefully the word spreads! Would love to mentor people into reducing their education cost!

  • Mariah Jul 4, 2016, 4:43 am

    I never thought about being a GA, thats a great tip!

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:25 pm

      Thanks 🙂

  • Inspiring Kitchen Jul 4, 2016, 5:33 am

    Congrats on your accomplishments. MBA courses are very expensive. This is a great resource for those who are thinking of pursuing MBA courses.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:25 pm

      It sure was expensive! Luckily I asked the right people the right questions which helped me out

  • valerie hansen Jul 4, 2016, 6:18 am

    Wow that amazing..good for you and great tips my two college kids need to read this! thanks for sharing!!


    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:25 pm

      You should! They may be able to reduce some cost which means less bills/loans for you/them.

  • Kathy Kenny Ngo Jul 4, 2016, 6:45 am

    It’s a good thing that you have these kind of programs. In a way I wish that we have something like this in our country to ensure that everyone can actually get a degree.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:26 pm

      Being from a third world country I know the struggle don’t worry. Keep pushing the envelope and you will be fine!

  • Lisa Sell Jul 4, 2016, 9:19 am

    It’s so hard to get an education, particularly when you’re older and supporting yourself. I managed to do this to MA level in the UK but it was tough. So worth it though!

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:27 pm

      Definitely worth it glad you persevered

  • Kate Jul 4, 2016, 12:48 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I think the potential cost of taking a masters qualification is a barrier for some people, therefore your tips will hopefully open up some opportunities for people looking for a way to make it happen.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:28 pm

      There are always opportunities people just fail to look!

  • Julie @ Millennial Boss Jul 4, 2016, 2:31 pm

    Good job getting that cost down! I’m getting my masters degree and have taken advantage of the employer reimbursement. I would strongly encourage people to stay employed while in school versus leaving work for school unless they get an amazing deal or significant scholarship.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:28 pm

      I would have never left my job to do an MBA, luckily I did it straight after my under grad so it was an easy decision.

  • Rosey Jul 4, 2016, 2:50 pm

    So wish I’d have taken these things into consideration before getting my degree. I now have student loans for a very long time, unless I get very lucky in finding a job that will allow me to pay them off sooner.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:29 pm

      Always look for an opportunity! Try to make extra payments when you get the chance it will help.

  • Krista Dial Jul 4, 2016, 3:20 pm

    That’s truly impressive! Wish I would’ve had this list while I was in college. So many people go into significant debt for college expenses. I’ve been enjoying reading your blog and look forward to future posts. 🙂

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:29 pm

      Thanks Krista glad you enjoy it 🙂 Hopefully people stop being ok with high prices and realize there is always a way to reduce cost.

  • Amy Jones Jul 4, 2016, 3:56 pm

    Wow I really could have used this list back when I was in college, what you did is amazing, it’s great you could cover all your expenses and didn’t end up in debt.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:30 pm

      Appreciate it Amy, I am very grateful to not be in debt.

  • Kathy Kenny Ngo Jul 4, 2016, 4:09 pm

    That was amazing. I thought MBA is way toooo expensive.

  • Melanie Smith Jul 4, 2016, 5:38 pm

    This is really great! I was looking for a post like this. It is so good that we can save some money in this!

  • Liz Mays Jul 4, 2016, 5:45 pm

    You worked so hard to get that within your budgeted amount, and I’m glad you were able to do so. That’s fantastic!

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:30 pm

      Thanks Liz! Was a lot of hard work but it paid off

  • Cheeta Jul 4, 2016, 6:24 pm

    This is such a fantastic achievement, it’s scary how much debt people can get themselves into without even questioning it or looking for an alternative. Kudos to you, I really hope your article reaches out and helps others to achieve their dreams where otherwise they might have just dismissed it as too expensive.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:31 pm

      There is always a way. We hear of these stories more often than people realize but they just accept facts rather than try to be one of these stories.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money Jul 4, 2016, 7:01 pm

    I came very close to starting an MBA program, but decided against it. So far I’ve delayed my enrollment twice and have no plans of starting this Fall, either.

    As someone who isn’t willing to sacrifice my full-time job to get an MBA, I would be taking classes at night. Even if I stretched the maximum employer tuition assistance of ~$5k over six years, I’d still be paying $50k out of my own pocket (at least) for the degree. I’m not convinced the ROI is there.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:32 pm

      I can see how the ROI is a challenge for many, especially if you are working full time. It is always something to keep in the back of your mind as an MBA opens a lot of doors, especially if you have experience to back it up!

  • Lexie Lane Jul 4, 2016, 8:06 pm

    College is so expensive! Wow! There are really only a handful of people who get this lucky! Good for you!

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 8:34 pm

      I won’t call it lucky Lexie, I certainly put a lot of effort into making this happen but luck does play a factor, especially with that one scholarship. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Enricoh Alfonzo Jul 4, 2016, 9:11 pm

    felicidades EPICA on the Scholarship! very impressive, clearly you have the drive to pursue what you want by any means. i dont believe it’s any luck, i believe you worked hard for everything you’ve gotten. Great insight

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 10:10 pm

      Appreciate it Enricoh! Thanks for stopping by

  • Christine Tatum Jul 4, 2016, 9:17 pm

    Great tips! This inspires me to go back to college. I will forward these on to some friends. One more year before the games begin for their kids.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 10:10 pm

      Thanks Christine! Every college parent should see this, and their children.

  • Echo Jul 4, 2016, 9:26 pm

    I love that you broke this all down for us. I know that there are a lot of scholarships available out there is people look them up and go for them.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 10:11 pm

      There are more scholarships than we could ever imagine which means tons of opportunity no matter how big or small.

  • Financial Slacker Jul 4, 2016, 9:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Stefan. I’m impressed with your ability to pull together that much funding from different sources.

    I am especially intrigued with the GA position. My kids are swimmers and I will keep this in mind as they get a little older. I keep telling them if they keep with swimming and their music, they’ll be in a position to give lessons and make side income while they’re in school. Never even considered a GA position.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 4, 2016, 10:11 pm

      Thanks Dave if you ever have any questions about the GA position feel free to reach out to me, it was a great source of funds. Having an athletic ability or talent is always a great side income job.

  • Shakirah Iman Jul 4, 2016, 10:12 pm

    This is very interesting. I d not feel like some of these money saving tips will work for me (I am a non-traditional student). However, I am 100% going to start looking into grants and scholarships I can get.

  • Chrishelle Jul 5, 2016, 2:01 am

    Congrats on your MBA and the amount you paid for it. I am thinking of continuing my education, but I have been using the financial excuse. Great tips. Thanks.

  • DividendsDownUnder Jul 5, 2016, 2:35 am

    Sadly, just *having* that extra education seems to be the starting point for some jobs now, rather than just a big boost.

    Nice job on making it so affordable for yourself Stefan! I have also asked my employer for financial help, let’s hope I can get help.


    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 6, 2016, 4:39 am

      Appreciate it Tristan hope everything works out!

  • Doran @ Haute Beauty Guide Jul 5, 2016, 6:11 am

    Great tips! I wish I saw this before I went for my Masters a few years ago. Congrats on your degree.

  • Francesca - From Pennies to Pounds Jul 5, 2016, 9:16 am

    Congrats on getting such a good scholarship amount! 🙂

    • Stefan Sharpe Jul 6, 2016, 4:40 am

      Thanks 🙂

  • Ana De- Jesus Jul 5, 2016, 10:09 am

    Congratulations its amazing that you got it reduced so significantly and I hope you find your benefactor soon .

  • Louisa Jul 5, 2016, 10:50 am

    These are excellent tips for getting scholarships. My teens will be going to college soon and scholarships would be a big help!

  • Karlaroundtheworld | Karla Jul 5, 2016, 4:02 pm

    Some people are in for a treat once they read this and learn that if done correctly, a huge amount of money can be saved for a degree or master’s. I fortunately didn’t really have this kind of problem during my days because of the cost of living and lesser educational costs back at my homeland but having a scholarship still turns the wheel in a huge way.

  • Danielle Jul 5, 2016, 4:41 pm

    That is soooo amazing that you were able to accomplish that! I remember struggling in undergrad and the few scholarships I got were such a huge help. To hear you with this luck and blessing is awesome. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  • Nazrin Miah Jul 5, 2016, 5:31 pm

    A massive congratulations to you! An even bigger congratulations for setting a goal for yourself and finding a route to get there! That’s what counts the most! You did what you needed to!

  • Ayesha Heart Jul 5, 2016, 8:41 pm

    Congrats! More success to come 🙂 Claim it!

  • Kathy Jul 6, 2016, 1:48 am

    First off I want to say congratulations! Sounds like you got an amazing deal. I know that can be really expensive. Scholarships are always wonderful ways to knock off some of that money. Good for you!

  • Marielle Altenor Jul 6, 2016, 1:55 am

    Oh wow! An MBA is expensive!!! Good thing you got a bit of money from scholarship. Still, that’s a lot of money!

  • Nicole Escat Jul 6, 2016, 5:13 am

    Wow, having an MBA is really expensive. I wish we can experience this wonderful program in our country as education is very important.

  • Berlin Jul 6, 2016, 6:27 am

    Congratulations on your MBA. I salute you for your perseverance. Husband is working doubly hard for his MBA and he asked for his company’s help for his thesis. It was indeed a great help. I, on th other hand, stopped for a while but dreams of finishing it in the near future.

  • Kathy Kenny Ngo Jul 6, 2016, 8:39 am

    Nice post, very informative. Thanks!

  • Latoya @ Life and a Budget Jul 6, 2016, 3:13 pm

    I really wish I had taken the time to ask these types of questions and look around before adding the cost of my MBA on top of my undergrad loans. Terrible decision in hindsight, but now that I’ve learned, I will very well pass on my warnings…everyone should be more like you;)

  • CourtneyLynne Jul 7, 2016, 12:28 am

    Omg wow! That’s an accomplishment!!!! mBA is a huge deal. Congrats!

  • Leigh Anne Borders Jul 7, 2016, 2:39 am

    Kudos to you for going for your dream and finding a way to finance it! Very cool!

  • Dhemz Jul 7, 2016, 1:52 pm

    Wow, good for you! What a smart way to finding an avenue to lower the cost. Education is absolutely expensive! Congratulations.

  • Letha Jul 7, 2016, 2:22 pm

    I see you don’t monetize your site, i’v got idea
    how to earn some extra money using one simple method, just search in google for – money making ideas by Loocijano

  • aurora Jul 8, 2016, 3:42 am

    Whoa! Great post! That’s amazing how you were able to lower down the cost to get that kind of education!

  • Mhaan A Jul 8, 2016, 3:59 pm

    My husband was able to finish his MBA and he was lucky because his tuition fee is not that costly. He was able to finish it for 4 years. I am so proud of him. And congrats to you too!

  • Rhonda Swan Jul 15, 2016, 3:21 am

    Great insight into a tough topic. Keep up the good work and live unstoppable!

  • Steven McMillian Oct 25, 2016, 4:10 pm

    That’s awesome. I hope your MBA goes well for you.

  • Wallet Squirrel Feb 25, 2017, 12:40 pm

    I’m pursuing the idea of an MBA now. It’s an incredibly difficult life choice because of the financial burden you’ll dig yourself into, but it sounds like through scholarships, you got this down.

    Before I begin though, I need to have a clear focus on what job exactly do I want and with what firm. That way I can do the cost-benefit analysis to see if getting an MBA will be financially worth it. On average an MBA gets you $15,000 more, so how long will that recovery take if I go into a $80,000 MBA program.

    • Stefan Sharpe Feb 25, 2017, 10:14 pm

      That is a pretty good way at looking at things. Make sure you go into an industry where it is recognized though. For example, right now my MBA doesn’t mean anything but in the future I hope it will mean a lot more.

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