I was lucky enough to get accepted to study at INSEAD 10 years ago. But before the great news I had spent at least 18 months preparing: from doing the GMAT, writing essays, deciding which school to go to, and determining how to finance this unique and life changing experience. I probably spent the least amount of time on the financing point, but in the end it was the most important.
Here are a few recommendations to keep in mind when financing your MBA:
The first recommendation is that whatever you expect to spend on your MBA, you are going to spend at least 30% more on your living expenses, and other expenses that come up. Of course, I wanted to make the most of the experience, and every MBA program, including INSEAD’s, has more activities than anyone can imagine going to. And it’s very tough to say “no” to them due to lack of savings. So tip 1: save at least an extra $5,000 for “travel expenses” per year.
The second recommendation is to evaluate the financial difference between a 1 year and 2 year MBA program. It is not only the opportunity cost of not working and making money, but the 2 year MBA is normally 50%-100% more expensive due to cost of living and 2 years of tuition. Choosing a 1 year MBA like INSEAD was not a conscious decision on my part but I’m glad I decided on it in the end. There is a trend around the world for more 1 year MBAs because of this reason.
The third and most important recommendation is to look for other sources of funding aside from a loan – a few options include:
1. Scholarships (there are a lot more per country than you may think. In Spain, there are at least 8 organizations that give scholarships)
2. Ask family and friends for donations or savings
3. Crowdsource your MBA experience
4. Get a side job for extra money
I started with the 4th option and managed to save a worthwhile extra amount for INSEAD. Three months before starting the program, I got lucky and got an amazing scholarship from Fundacion Rafael del Pino in Spain for my studies.
Finally, I encourage you to look at what others are doing around you, search on blogs and forums, be creative, and most importantly: if you are set on doing an MBA, with a little bit of discipline and structure, you can save for the future.
Ricardo is Prodigy Finance‘s Head of Business Development. He got his MBA from INSEAD in 2006. After his MBA, he worked in management consulting for 8 years before shifting his focus to consult for startup companies in the Fintech space. He joined the Prodigy Finance team in 2014.