Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Paying for your MBA

Dear Forte Community,

In light of the recent Fortune article about the large debt incurred by MBAs, here are my thoughts on how to pay for your MBA.

Initially, I figured I would take out loans “like everyone else.” However, when I attended my first financial aid presentation, I was appalled at the interest rates and scared of becoming a slave to debt as I heard classmates speak about feeling trapped in job choices “to pay off their loans.” So, I decided to do everything I could to pay for school. While my advice is to attend school only when you are financially ready, you can compensate if time is not on your side and feel the freedom that I do as I graduate without owing a dime for school.

Here are 10 ways I paid for school. I hope this motivates you and gives you ideas!

1) I worked as a Graduate Assistant in a dorm. Yes, this meant living

with 18-year-olds. This also meant free room, free campus meals, free events, and smart undergrads with whom to generate business ideas.

2) I was a Teaching Assistant for multiple classes. This involved

teaching recitations, holding office hours, and grading. You can earn this position through either good class performance or work experience.

3) I tutored MBAs and undergrads in accounting. A lot of students need

help with their core classes.

4) I worked in the Admissions office. Turns out they actually do read EVERY application.

5) I did on-campus psychology experiments.

6) I talked to professors about my financial goals and applied for scholarships. Help from groups like the Forte Foundation can go a long way!

7) I took a summer internship that paid well rather than my “dream internship.”

8) I have continued the same career path as before school, meaning I

could write off education expenses on my taxes.

9) I thought about every dollar. I used the free campus shuttle, read class notes on-line, and checked out textbooks at the library.

10) I did not do any of the alluring “leadership” trips. If you give into a $12K trip to Antarctica with friends, everything else starts feeling like “no big deal” as the loans stack up.

If you have questions, comments, or other money-saving ideas, please feel free to e-mail me. I am happy to help!

Christine Parker, Wharton MBA ‘11

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