Don’t rule anything out when seeking to finance your MBA

Annabel Denham
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How to secure the funding necessary for an MBA is a cause for legitimate concern among candidates – especially when the cost can be over £41,000 per year, plus living expenses. Nowadays, less state funding is available, and “high-street bank loans have almost entirely disappeared”, says George Murgatroyd, research manager at the Association of MBAs. The obvious options are no longer so accessible.

But a variety are still open, including educational and career development loans, scholarships and corporate sponsorship. There are also numerous options for post-graduate study more generally, so candidates should also research wider post-graduate funding options, rather than looking exclusively at those solely for MBAs.

A loan is still the most popular option. Although you may find there is nothing a bank is willing to do, it is always worth investigating. Barclays, for example, offers a professional and career loan to students, and the government pays the interest while you study. Students can borrow between £300 and £10,000, with typical rates fixed at 5.7 per cent APR. They will pay nothing until two months after finishing the course, with repayment terms of 12 to 60 months. If you are looking for a loan, make your bank your first port of call.

Most business schools also offer MBA scholarships to outstanding candidates. The awards vary in amount and normally take the form of fee remission – with some including contributions to living expenses. “No student should let fear of competition deter them from applying for a scholarship. It is well worth the time looking at the application process,” says Steve Cousins, MBA recruitment and admissions manager at Cass Business School. A full list of UK scholarships can be found on the Association of MBAs’ website –

The Prodigy Finance Loan Programme is a scheme which allows alumni to invest in students at business schools around the world. It’s an innovative way for potential students to finance their MBAs by enabling them to access a wider source of funding. “Prodigy is not charity. It’s a way for alumni to contribute to the success of highly-motivated and ambitious MBA students. It also provides a fairly good investment return to alumni”, says David Simmons, executive director of the full-time MBA programme at the Cranfield School of Management. Many candidates approach an MBA ruling themselves out of a loan for various reasons, but Prodigy is based on future earnings. In the past five years, it has distributed over $20m (£12.4m) in loans to MBA students from more than 80 nationalities, with zero defaults.

Another option worth considering is the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, designed for UK students studying vocational subjects abroad. Alternatively, there are Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries, which are open to anyone starting a UK or European postgraduate course.

The best advice, says Cousins, is to not rule anything out. “Have conversations with your bank and look into scholarships. Ask colleagues and friends who have done MBAs for advice. Tell yourself ‘there is a chance I can get this’, because there probably is”.