5 things to consider when self-funding your MBA | TopMBA.com

5 things to consider when self-funding your MBA

By Aisha K

Updated Updated

A typical cohort for an MBA programme will normally include experienced professionals who have been able to accrue savings over the course of their career – it’s therefore no surprise that many of those students will want to self-fund their studies. 

Whilst self-funding can remove any dependency on student loans or employer sponsorship, an MBA is often a costly expense so it’s important to feel confident about your decision.  

Here are five things to consider if you’re self-funding your MBA: 

Make a business case to yourself  

As odd as it may sound, putting a business case together in the same way you would for an employer sponsorship can help reassure yourself that the money going towards your studies is a worthwhile investment.  

Zena Dhanak is a student at Imperial College London on the Weekend MBA programme and is also director at General Technology (a family business that she runs with her dad).  

She said: “I was thinking about making a business case in two ways. The first was outlining the importance in developing my leadership and management skills and the fact that it’s very impactful for the family business since I lead our employees.” 

“The second way was recognising the programme was going to be an investment in myself and that when I move on to different roles in the future, all of that learning can be transferred in whatever I decide to do next.”   

Start with practical reasons if you’re asking friends/family for funding support 

If asking friends and family for financial support, Zena recommends approaching the conversation from a rational standpoint as it can become an emotional discussion. 

She said: “I thought about it from the perspective of how this programme will aid the family business, which helped me build up a rational justification. After explaining that, I was then able to talk about my own personal ambitions and where I want to go in my career. 

“I think starting out with the softer aspects of why you want to do it can make it a little bit harder to justify because they might not understand how much it means to you personally. So, drawing on the practical reasons first helps because it draws them in initially and then you can lead into your personal objectives.”  

Research the programme’s return on investment 

Studying an MBA comes with a hefty price tag so it’s worth checking how the programme ensures that graduates reap the financial benefits of their degree.  

Iain Cooper, an alumnus of UCL’s online MBA who now works as a senior director of finance at Jacobs, said: “Provided students engage with the programme, the faculty, their cohort and their studies, they can realise a significant return on their investment (ROI) through developing new knowledge and capabilities, which they can leverage to accelerate their future career progression.” 

“It’s important to evaluate the programme’s ROI to consider the many years of incremental earnings you’ll achieve post-graduation.” 

Iain Cooper

Maximise your time on the course 

Most MBA programmes will offer a variety of activities from networking with alumni to social meetups with your peers, so it’s important to engage with as many events that will enhance your overall experience.  

Iain said: “It’s a big financial commitment and as such should not be entered into lightly. If you’re going to spend the money, then I recommend you take every penny of value from the programme. 

“This means committing fully to engaging with your studies and the learning process to ensure you derive as much value from the programme as possible.” 

Set aside money for additional opportunities 

When budgeting other costs alongside your studies, Ian recommends keeping a separate fund to take advantage of any opportunities that may come up. 

Although his MBA was an online course, he chose to attend an optional immersion weekend that takes place yearly in London.  

Having kept some savings aside to pay for the immersion programme, he said: “While in-person attendance at the immersion weekend is discretionary, in my view, it is an integral part of the value proposition for the UCL MBA. For that reason, I’d encourage students to factor any additional costs into their budget.” 

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