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How to finance your MBA?

How to finance your MBA?

Posted by Liesbeth De Baere
on Oct 19, 2017
in Executive MBA, FAQ

An MBA is a fast track to a promotion, but let’s face it, it can be expensive. When considering a new job, many young professionals expect their employers to cover at least some of the expenses related to furthering their education. 

The prospect of professional development, even more than a pay rise, consistently ranks as one of the most important requirements for job-seekers today. That’s why many employers have long attracted new hires with some form of tuition reimbursement. Companies have traditionally paid for their staff’s MBAs, because they saw it as a way to retain current workers, give them new and relevant skills and attract new talent. The deal came with a few strings – usually, there would be a lock-in period during which you would be required to stay with your employer – but it was still better than footing the bill yourself own or having to ask family for help. Unfortunately, those days are long gone.

Times are changing

Few large, global corporations still pay for their employees’ MBAs, and that’s no longer the case for most small- and medium-sized enterprises, especially in Belgium. According to a recent survey, only a quarter of MBA participants can count on full financial support from their employers; ten years ago, it was twice as many. The number of people who finance the programme completely on their own has also risen from 34% in 2012 to almost 50% today. 

Most studies show that employers hold MBA graduates in high regard, but they’re increasingly hesitant to pay for the whole programme because it can prove to be a significant financial burden. In the US, some of the top schools charge as much as €165,000 for a full-time MBA, compared to the global average of €54,000. Even in more affordable schools, the costs can still add up.

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Keep up the pace

On top of the financial burden, there is also the issue of time. Depending on the duration of the programme, your company has to forego having you as an employee for one, two or even three years. They may also fear that when you return to your job, you’ll need adjustment period before you can start putting the theoretical knowledge into practice.

A way to convince your employer to help you financially is to do an MBA while remaining in your day job. With a part-time programme, like the Executive MBA Or The Global Executive MBA offered by Vlerick, your company does not lose you as an employee; an added perk, of course, is that you get to keep your salary. Today, more than half of all participants pursuing an MBA degree do so on a part-time basis.

an mba with the help of your employer

Eye on the big picture

When convincing your employer to help you get through the MBA programme, it’s also important to keep in mind the big picture. A company that values professional development is more likely to see the programme as an investment rather than an expense. Before approaching your employer, figure out how they would benefit from your MBA. Think of the qualitative skills you will gain, like better data analysis and important business insights, as well as the practical work that you will be doing during your studies.

Most MBA programmes today combine theory with real life applications. At Vlerick, the Executive MBA programme and the Global Executive MBA includes the Knowledge-In-Action Project where you assess your existing employer – using actual data and real cases – with the help of expert faculty and fellow participants. Your company is more likely to offer you some kind of financial assistance if they realise your training will result in a direct productivity boost for them.

Because the Executive MBA is designed to work around your professional schedule, you attend only two days of lectures every three weeks. The Global Executive MBA, however, alternates in a blended format of 5 online modules and 6 week-long modules across the Globe, every 7 weeks. This way, you get to immediately apply what you have just learned. The work and classroom environment function as a lab where you get to learn the theory and use it in practice. Your employer doesn’t have to wait for you to finish the degree before they see the direct benefits of it. As such, the MBA creates an immediate win-win situation for everyone – you get to further your education and your employer doesn’t have to hire additional personnel or outside consultants to remain in the game.

Cut the costs

But even if your employer doesn’t offer any tuition assistance or lacks the means to cover the entire programme, it’s still worth talking to them about your options. In Belgium, small- and medium-sized enterprises can benefit from government subsidies towards staff training. Depending on the size of the company, in Flanders, SMEs can apply for tuition support through the KMO-portefeuille; Brussels-based companies are also eligible for assistance from the capital’s regional government. With various scholarships and a plethora of competitively-priced loans, your employer’s out-of-pocket costs suddenly don’t seem so scary.

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