How to Finance your MBA?
August 10, 2018
I really struggled to find financing for my MBA. I didn’t really have a great salary before joining the program because I worked in a Startup for 3 years then, I started my own business and that took a bit to actually pick up. Being a freelance consultant, in addition, to be stressful to run is also quite difficult administratively.
for example, It was difficult to apply to bank loans because I didn’t really have a stable income and I could not show pay slips.
Grants for Belgians going to the US:
As a Belgian, I could apply to the Belgian American Educational Foundation. It provides either a 100kUSD Loans with no interest or a 50kUSD grant. The application needs to be filled online. the loans are interest-free and come with a grace period of the time of the MBA. After submitting the application online, potential candidates are invited to an interview. The interview is between the candidate and around 10 Belgian academics. I would suggest brushing up your french and dutch before going to the interview and be ready to answer questions like: “Why would you make a good ambassador of the foundation”, “What would an MBA give you more than what you have now”, “Why should we give you the chance of being a BAEF scholar”. FYI I got invited to the interview but didn’t get any money.
the Fullbright Commission also gives away grants but the deadlines are tight and when I received the acceptance letters from round 1, it was already too late to apply. So make sure you apply on time.
Rotary is also a great option for grants, but you have to start your application at least 1 year before joining the program. So I would suggest you start applying even before you submit your applications. Timing is really hard with this one.
Foundation Fernand Lazard gives away free loans up to 25k€, with a 2 year grace period. If I’m not mistaken the foundation is Belgian but gives to any European National. The application is to be filled online and the results come by email.
Erasmus+ Master Loan. The European Union has facilitated a loan up to 18k€ for 2 years for masters and Erasmus students with an interest rate of maximum 5.46% which is not great but not loanshark like loans like I saw other banks do (8 to 14%). They come with a grace period up to 3 years (2 years of Masters +1) and can be a great option for students in need of money. Go to the nearest CaixaBank agency to start the process. They require that you open an account and take some kind of insurance as service (the offered some kind of personal insurance for 6€ per month).
Prodigy Finance is a loan provider for students coming from every country. I think their interest rate is not super interesting, but they are more or less the only ones to provide loans to students internationally. They refused my application because I’m Belgian. So some countries are not really acceptable. The application process online is fairly simple and they send you an answer in the hour, to tell you if you are eligible or not. Most of IESE students financed their loans with Prodigy.
IESE Students Bank Loan:
Banc Sabadell has an agreement with IESE Business School to provide loans up to 80% of the tuition cost and at a very competitive interest rate. At least that what they say, because my application was denied for the full amount and could not apply for an 80% loan, they only accepted a 44% tuition fee loan because my salary pre-MBA was too low. (Around 2000€ per month in Thailand). I’m still trying to contact them on a regular basis to finalize this process, but their customer service is really not that great and I would recommend using their service in last resort.
Waïna Landauro is an 2020 IESE MBA. Author of iesemba.com and creator of the business videogame The nasty consultant. Founder of Interview practice platform Mockmate.com. He’s currently supporting startups at Google Cloud. Talk to digital waina