Paying for Business School: Financial Aid for Your Business Degree

Paying for business school

Pin stripes suit you, you dream of your first IPO, and you think profit and loss reports make good reading. If this sounds like you, then you are destined to work in the world of business, and need to earn a business degree. But paying for your business degree may seem like a mighty high mountain to climb. Luckily, there is business school financial aid, there are grants, business school scholarships, and more to help business school students pay for their business degree.

Education is an investment in your future. The specialized education and training you receive while earning your business degree will provide you with the necessary tools and knowledge to be successful in the business world. Earning a business degree will enable you to speed up the corporate ladder to personal and financial success. Business school financial aid can be the first step to a earning your business degree. Don’t let money (or the lack of it) prevent you from earning your business degree; the purpose of financial aid is to assist students with their educational expenses so that financial barriers do not prevent them from achieving their educational goals.

What Is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is provided by federal, state, institutional, or private sources and may consist of grants, loans, work-study, or scholarships. Each year, billions of dollars are given or lent to students, and about half of all college students receive some sort of financial aid. Most financial aid is awarded based on financial need, college costs, and the availability of funds. This aid is provided to students because neither they nor their families have all of the resources needed to pay for a college education. This kind of aid is referred to as need-based aid.

Merit-based aid is awarded to students who may or may not have financial need. Students are given assistance because they have a special skill or ability, display a particular talent, have a certain grade point average, or are enrolled in a specific program. Here is where you find the business school scholarship and grant programs.

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

In general, to be considered eligible for federal financial aid, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an accredited institution
  • Be making satisfactory academic progress in your course of study
  • Not be in default on any loan or owe a refund or repayment on any previous financial aid received at any institution attended
  • Be registered with the Selective Service, if you are required to do so

Types and Sources of Financial Aid

There are several types of financial aid offered to help pay for educational expenses.

  • Grants
  • Loans
  • Student employment (work)
  • Scholarships

Business school grants and scholarships are “gifts” and do not have to be repaid. Business school loans are borrowed money that must be paid back over a period of time, usually after the student leaves school. Student employment is normally part-time work arranged for a student during the school year. Wages received by the student are used for specific college expenses.

Determining Financial Aid Eligibility and Financial Need

Eligibility for financial aid is determined by subtracting the amount you and your parents can contribute from the cost of attendance. An assessment of your family’s ability to contribute toward educational expenses is made based on the information you provide when applying for financial aid. Income, assets, family size, and number of family members in college are some of the factors considered in this calculation. This assessment, referred to as need analysis, determines your financial need, which is defined as the difference between the total cost of attendance and what you are expected to pay. Financial need will vary between colleges because of each school’s different costs of attendance.

Determining the Student’s Status: Independent or Dependent?

Remember that both students and parents are expected to help pay for college costs. This means that you, as the student, will be expected to contribute to your educational expenses. If you are considered dependent by federal definition, then your parents’ income and assets, as well as yours, will be counted toward the family contribution. If you are considered independent of your parents, only your income (and that of your spouse, if you are married) will count in the need analysis formula.

Applying for Financial Aid

To apply for financial aid for business school, it is essential that you properly complete the necessary forms so that your individual financial need can be evaluated. It is important to read all application materials and instructions very carefully. The financial aid office of the business school you are attending will be happy to provide you with guidance and assistance.

Most business schools use just one financial aid application called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is a four-page application available at your college’s financial aid office, local high school guidance offices, and state education department offices. Students can apply for federal student aid via the Internet by using FAFSA on the Web. FAFSA on the Web can be accessed at

Graduate School

If you’ve decided to earn an advanced business degree, the good news is that whether you attend full-time or part-time, funding for your graduate business degree is readily available. For most students, the primary source of funding is through the various student loan programs. These costs are an investment in your future earnings potential. According to a recent salary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, average starting salary offers for graduates of MBA programs is 25 to 40 percent higher than for non-MBA graduates.

Financial aid is different at the graduate level. Most importantly, all graduate students are considered independent for the purpose of federal financial aid. This means your parents are not required to assist you financially or complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Information from the 2003–04 NASFAA study reports that 13 percent of full-time M.B.A. students received a fellowship, grant, and/or tuition waiver, while another 9 percent received assistantships. However, 31 percent of full-time and 45 percent of part-time students received assistance from their employers, far higher than any other graduate program. Looking at the 2003–04 graduating class, 56 percent of public and 62 percent of private school students reported having student loan debt, averaging $25,563 and $38,499 respectively.