Every year, the QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey samples almost 4,000 MBA applicants from around the world, to establish the mindset and aspirations of business school candidates.
The latest survey found that out of 15 different selection criteria for business schools, the most important criterion is the availability of MBA scholarships and financial aid.
The survey also found that most people had already looked into how they would fund business school, and 74% of respondents intended to rely on scholarships.
However, whatever a student's initial preference, in practice, the most common source of finance is now the education or career loan. We look at some of the sources of such loans across the globe.
UK citizens can borrow up to two thirds of their pre-study salary in any twelve-month period from NatWest to fund an MBA.
Applicants need to contribute at least 20% of the course fees from their own resources and repayment periods range from 7 years for sums under '20,000 to 10 years for sums over '20,000. Interest is currently 6.9% APR.
HSBC offers loans to students of a number of British based schools, including Cranfield, London Business School and Manchester Business School.
Unlike many other schemes, this facility is open to students from anywhere in the world. Interest is charged at 2% over HSBC's base rate for the duration of the loan. There are no upfront commissions or early repayment charges.
There are several sources of aid for US students studying at home or abroad and for overseas candidates looking to study in the USA.
Citibank has a very well developed student loan division, which provides standard loans and also partners with individual schools to provide tailored packages.
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, for example, offers funding through Citibank, which guarantees most accepted students a prime plus 0.5% interest rate, with a 15-year payback period, and no co-signers or credit check required.
IEFC "Students interested in studying at one of nearly 400 institutions around the world may be eligible for loans of up to US $45,000 from the IEFC (International Education Finance Corporation).
The IEFC has three loan programs: the Stafford for US citizens or permanent residents, Can HELP for Canadians and ISLP for foreign students.
To be eligible for ISLP you must be able to provide a guarantor, who is a US citizen or permanent resident.
GATE Universal is a student loan program managed by First Marblehead Corporation and Bank of America. www.gateloan.com MBA LOANS is a private loan program run by Sallie Mae and targeted specifically at US citizens.
French residents of any nationality who have worked in the country can apply to FONGECIF (Fonds de Gestion du Cong' Individuel de Formation) for up to 90% funding of tuition fees plus a part of their current salary.
Since 2001, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has offered a low interest (currently 3.3%) loan of 7,200 to all graduate students seeking to study in Germany. www.bmbf.de
Certain banks also provide MBA loans. EU students on the MBA programme at HHL-Leipzig, for example, are eligible for loans from Sparkasse Leipzig at 5%, while potential MBAs from the EU, USA and Canada can also apply for funding via the HHLs partner, CareerConcept.
Several of the key Spanish schools have negotiated loan agreements with Spanish and overseas banks to help students with funding.
IESE, Barcelona has a loan scheme offered through Banco Santander Centro Hispano, which is open to students of any nationality accepted by the school.
Instituto de Empresa, Madrid has similar arrangements to cover fees and iving expenses with repayment periods up to eight years.
Banque Soci'n'rale Vostok offers loans to Russian citizens to help with MBA study, either at home or abroad. Students can postpone repayment (though not interest) until up to 24 months after graduation.
FIDERH - provides loans of up to MXN158,500 per annum to cover tuition fees and living expenses.
Candidates need to hold a first degree, be aged under 30 and be able to supply a guarantor of Mexican nationality, who owns a property with a value of at least 150% the loan amount.
Fundaci'n Healy provides loans and scholarships for residents of Sonora or Baja California.
Through its partnership with ANZ Bank, AGSM can provide access to credit for MBA fees and living expenses for permanent Australian and New Zealand residents.
Repayments are deferred and eligibility is based on 70% of earnings over the previous 12 months.
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia does not have a specific student loan program, but will consider applications on individual merit up to AU$5,000 at branch level. Head office considers higher amounts.
Indian nationals have access to a wide range of educational loans geared to fund MBA study.
Key suppliers include State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, State Bank of Mysore, Bank of Baroda and the Industrial Development Bank of India.
Loans can be used to cover the cost of fees, travel to an overseas school, the cost of books, computers, etc and living expenses.
In most cases, candidates will already need to have secured a place at a recognised institution and may need to supply a guarantor, such as a parent or close relative, with sufficient funds to cover the loan.
Repayment ranges up to four years after graduation and interest rates are currently around 8.5 to 8.75%.
Domestic students at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto can access interest-subsidised loans from Scotiabank to cover the full cost of their tuition.
Each provincial government in Canada also administers and maintains a student financial aid program in cooperation with the federal government's Canada Student Loan Program.
Eligibility requirements, maximum borrowing amounts and loan repayment policies vary from province to province.
Usually, assistance is in the form of interest free loans while a student is in school, although some provinces award grants to students or offer additional assistance to students graduating with debt over a certain amount.
Source: QS TopMBA Career Guide