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:
|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?