Thursday, September 11, 2008

How can HBH fund his MBA?

I met HBH for the first time when I took him out for dinner last year, and since then we've become friends :-). It's good news to hear that he's finally got an offer of acceptance to study for an MBA in London. Working out how to pay for it is probably his biggest concern right now, so I thought I'd do a post specifically on the subject of funding postgraduate degrees. Hopefully this will be of interest to both HBH as well as other readers who may be contemplating some form of higher education in the UK. However it's been a while since I was in this situation myself, or since I had any friends who needed funding for higher education, so it would be good if readers with more knowledge than me could leave comments with further ideas.

Funding for higher education is a very wide area. Applicants are generally treated on a case by case basis depending on circumstances such as nationality, country of residence, financial situation, educational institution previously attended, type of degree and class awarded, and so on. HBH is not British, and although he does come from a former British colony in the Caribbean, this definitely makes it harder for him to fund a postgraduate degree here in the UK. Anyway, depending on the situation, the following funding sources may (or may not) be available:
  1. A grant or scholarship from the institution offering the course: Applicants need to do intensive research before applying to business schools and universities, because most offer some form of financing via a direct reduction of tuition fees. Research should be made early enough so that financing can be applied for before the start of the course. Needless to say, there's usually stiff competition for this form of funding. For example, if applying to do an MBA program at the LBS, you come up against professionals such as doctors, lawyers and engineers who can all demonstrate a need. The clincher probably depends on academic ability. Even if you're successful in obtaining this type of funding, it's usually only a fraction of the total cost, so there still remains a large sum to finance.
  2. Company sponsorship: A company scholarship might sound easy, but to qualify for MBA funding, you usually need to already be employed at that company in a managerial type of position with the relevant number of years experience. Even so, I suspect that many companies are tight on spending at the moment due to the credit crunch in the financial markets. While this option is definitely worth exploring, for many people like HBH this won't be an option.
  3. Grants from private bodies: Finding grants from private bodies is like finding a needle in a haystack. They do exist, but it requires intensive research. The Grants Register by Macmillan helps. Do any readers have any specific ideas on this which might be useful to HBH?
  4. Career Development Loans At the moment, the CDL program is being administered by three UK High Street Banks - The Royal Bank of Scotland, The Co-Operative Bank and Barclays. They have certain conditions which must me met before making an application, for example the institution offering the course must be registered with the Learning and Skills Council. The applicant must also have been resident in the UK for a certain period of time, and plan to remain in the UK for long enough to repay the loan. There are also other restrictions that appear harsh if you're a non UK national like HBH.
  5. Personal savings of the individual: Private funding is always a good option if all other avenues fail. However, this option is a last resort for most people, because most people don't have sufficient savings prior to becoming a well-paid MBA graduate!  Hence establishing this source usually requires several years of dedicated saving, because one needs more than just a couple of £k. It's also a big risk to use all your money, because everyone needs to have some cash in hand to cover incidental expenses and living costs.
  6. Personal loan from a bank: A personal loan from a bank is only available if you intend to work while studying for your degree, so that the loan re-payments can come out of your salary. Again, this is dependant on satisfying the conditions the Bank lays down. Just like with company scholarships, the UK High Street Banks are all hesitant to lend at the moment because of the credit crunch.
  7. Association of MBA loan: The Association of MBA loans is presently being administered by a single UK High Street Bank. Several conditions must be met such as the MBA being accredited by the Association. The applicant must have no restrictions to remain and work in the UK, and several other conditions must be met too. As with Career Development Loans, some of these conditions appear harsh if you're a non UK national like HBH.
As far as I'm aware, these are the avenues that can be explored, however there's no guarantee in any of them. Sometimes good networking can be the best untapped source of funding for bright hardworking students like HBH . Anyway, it would be great if any readers have further ideas for funding, which HBH or any other interested readers could try?


Sir Wobin said...

Congrats to HBH! Prepare to give up your life during your studies.

I studied my MBA part time, attending lectures and doing the extensive reading in the evenings and weekends. It took 2 years and I was self funded, since I kept my day job. Many business schools in London are prepared to share your time with a job and structure their part time programmes very sensibly.

There are lots of scholarships available, as GB notes. Take a good long look through Apply for as many as you have time for, some are bound to stick if you're good.

One of my friends from South Africa got his tuition and accommodation paid for during full-time study with a Commonwealth bursary (which HBH should also be eligible for). An Aussie colleague in my MBA class had all his tuition paid for by a Times newspaper scholarship. He had to write them a piece and submit to an interview with them about starting an MBA, published alongside his own piece.

I really mean it when I say apply for as many as you have time for. This frequently becomes the modus operadi for MBA students: do as much as time permits. It's a good lesson to learn early.

Anonymous said...

may i say a whole heartedly congrats to HBH. It is going to be a tough time. I hope he has good support in friends and/or partner?
As SW said it's good to apply to as many as possible.
GB may i also say reading your blog restores faith in me that not all bankers are self centred control freaks. You certainly seem to be able to give your time and thoughts to people even when u seem to have a very busy life yourself.
I continue to read your blog and enjoy.

English said...

It's great news for HBH.Not into all the ins and outs of funding for MBAs though. I'm sure both you and HBH have already done research and this is what it came up with... * In some countries there can be tax benefits – e.g. the fees for certain types of program attract tax relief. * Being a Carribean guy, HBH may be able to get a grant from the CARICOM Secretariat as sponsorship for overseas further education, think they probably do it in conjunction with UWI. * British Council Chevening Scholarships - these are administered by the British Council and are currently available in more than 100 countries around the world.

Humming Bird in Hyde said...

Many thanks to GB for taking the time to post this question.

I will certainly apply for everything under the sun Sir wobin.

Thanks Anony and GB does give of his time when needed.

I will check those links English.

Thanks guys for all the links. :-)

bartleby scrivener said...

Good advice, but there is one option you did not mention. It doesn't apply to MBAs, but would be applicable to those pursuing a degree in economics. If the field you are interested in has a PhD program, you should apply for the PhD program, as these programs usually have a full funding package. Many programs offer the Master's degree on the way to the PhD, but you can always opt out after you get the masters. You just have to make a convincing application about why you want to do a PhD. Some programs may have Q exams after the first year, but even if you flunk out of your Qs, you at least get a fully funded year under your belt.

badabing said...

I'm a bit of a sceptic when it comes to MBAs but if someone is really determined to do one and is low on funds then part-time study is what I would recommend.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't able to get any grants. But I took out a loan from a bank that didn't require that I work fulltime. It was a huge loan ($120K -- I did my MBA in the States), but it's dealable with given the post-MBA salary you'll earn -- particularly in finance. Mine was from Citibank at a horrendously high rate-- but you'll pay it off quite quickly anyway.

Sir Wobin said...

The finance industry is not in a good state. Many tens of thousands of bankers have been made redundant, Bear Sterns taken over, Lehman Bros about to be taken over and many economic indicators say the tough times may last for some time.

While it takes at least a year to get through the MBA, it's very risky to count on a plush finance job to pay a large loan. Perhaps it shows that sort of person has the right risk attitude to trade mortgage backed securities, who knows?

Charlie said...

So HBH, have you begged for the millions yet to fund your MBA. We're all waiting to hear that you've amassed thousands of pennies. You could always do what London Preppy did and auction a photo-diary on Ebay :)