Friday, January 27, 2012

Financing Your MBA, Part 2

A few weeks ago, we posted information about external funding options for the MBA, but in this post, we’d like to outline more specifically what you should expect to pay for and provide a brief overview of the financial aid process. If you are an international student, this information will be especially helpful to you.

For many students, the Terry College provides generous financial assistance to qualified candidates in the form of graduate assistantships, out-of-state tuition waivers, and scholarships, but even if you receive one of these awards, it will not cover your full Cost of Attendance. For example, an assistantship covers all but $50 of your tuition for the academic year. This is obviously a great deal, but it does not cover your university fees ($2,190 this year) or other expenses that you have to account for: housing, books & supplies, room & board, transportation, health insurance and living expenses. (Note: Terry MBA tuition and fees are higher than those for other UGA graduate students).

Can you work part-time to cover these expenses? The short, honest answer: Not in the first year. As a Full-Time MBA student, with academic and program commitments outside of class, you will not have time. Students are discouraged (strongly) from working during the first year because we know from experience that in order to succeed, you need to focus on your academic and recruiting efforts to get the most out of the experience. Do not expect to cover your expenses with a part-time job.

These estimated expenses are just that, ESTIMATED. If you choose to live off-campus in a $2200 apartment by yourself, then your housing costs will exceed the estimated cost and you will have to pay that additional rent out of your own pocket. Or, as an MBA student, you may also need to pay for a new suit for interviewing, informational interviews with alumni (picking up the tab for coffee or lunch), travel expenses to career fairs, case competitions, or other school-related trips.

Room & board, books, transportation, health insurance and living expenses can run you around $12,000 dollars (or more) for the academic year, depending on your lifestyle. Since the graduate assistantship stipend for the academic year ($8000 for this year) does not cover all these expenses, you will need to secure additional funding before entering the program. If you are a domestic student, your first step is to submit the FAFSA (by March 1, 2012 this year) to determine your eligibility for federal, state and University need-based aid. After you know how much need-based aid you will receive, you can apply for a private educational loan, if needed. Remember though, you will not be allowed to take out loans in excess of the Cost of Attendance. The application process is outlined on the Office of Student Financial Aid website.

If you are an international student, you must certify that you have personal funds (bank accounts, loan money) to cover these expenses (the estimated Cost of Attendance for one year) before UGA will issue you an I-20 to obtain your visa. The Certificate of Financial Support must be submitted after you receive your official acceptance from the Graduate School. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you will be able to take out a private educational loan from a U.S. bank without a U.S. co-signer, so you will need to secure personal funds.

We hope this post helps you think through some of the financial logistics that go into your decision-making because we do not want to discourage you from pursuing an MBA! Every year, we enroll 50+ students who must overcome these same financial hurdles, so it is not an impossible task with the proper planning and forethought.