Paying for Your MBA Scholarships, Grants and Other Funding Options for Minority Students

The most popular way to pay for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is with student loans. But with the top 100 schools costing on average $75,000 for tuition over the program lifespan, according to global rankings by Financial Times in 2014, students are best served by finding funding that offsets the cost of graduate school without requiring them to pay anything back. For instance, merit-based scholarships and need-based grants are available from universities, nonprofit organizations, state and federal governments, and other sources. Fellowships, which are commonly tied to philanthropic endeavors such as studies that promote awareness of global issues, are another option and often cover all of the costs associated with earning an MBA. Discover what’s out there, and pick up a few tips on how to finance your MBA.

Scholarships for MBA Students

Earning an MBA is one way to gain a competitive edge in the corporate world. However, MBA programs can cost thousands of dollars. Fortunately, there are numerous scholarships designed to help MBA students pay for grad school. Three of the most popular types of MBA scholarships are:

  • Need-based awards geared toward promising students who can demonstrate financial need
  • Merit-based awards for students who excel academically
  • Targeted awards aimed at increasing the number of minorities and other underrepresented groups in the field

There are various permutations of each type of funding, with applicants of all backgrounds able to find financial awards geared toward them.

MBA scholarships make it possible for students to pursue a degree without incurring debt. General MBA graduate scholarships are available from clubs and organizations, as well as from the schools themselves. General scholarships still have specific guidelines, so students need to research the requirements before applying. Find available MBA scholarships:

Sponsoring Agency: World Trade Club of San Francisco

Amount: $5,000

Regardless of citizenship, the World Trade Club of San Francisco awards this competitive scholarship to graduate students enrolled in an international business field. Recipients are selected based on academic achievement, work experience and statement of purpose.

Sponsoring Agency: Government Finance Officers Association

Amount: $13,000

Students who are pursuing careers in state and local government finance are eligible for this award. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. or Canada and receive a recommendation from the student’s academic advisor or dean of their graduate program.

Sponsoring Agency: Junior Achievement

Amount: $5,000

Former members of Junior Achievement (or JA volunteers) are qualified for this renewable award. Applicants should have two years of full-time work history and be pursuing their MBA full time.

Sponsoring Agency: Military MBA

Amount: $20,000

Any U.S. resident who holds an undergraduate degree and has served in the military is eligible for this award to be used toward a graduate business degree at a member school. The scholarship may not be used in conjunction with any other full scholarship award.

Choosing to enroll in an MBA program is a major decision because graduate school requires a significant time and financial commitment. African-American students can offset expenses by securing scholarships aimed at minorities. Many places offer scholarships to attract minority students to MBA-related careers, including membership organizations, clubs, charitable foundations and religious groups. Find available MBA scholarships:

Consortium for Graduate Study in Management

Amount: Full year’s tuition

The Consortium is dedicated to increasing the representation of minority MBA students. It is able to offer full-tuition fellowships to about 70 percent of those admitted to its member schools.

Sponsoring Agency: Credit Suisse

Amount: Up to $30,000

African American MBA students who are interested in pursuing a career in banking are eligible for this award. They should have a demonstrated record of leadership ability as well as strong academic and professional achievement.

Sponsoring Agency: National Association of Black Accountants

Amount: $1,000 to $10,000

Minority students who are in a full-time business program are eligible for this award. Up to 70 students receive awards annually.

Sponsoring Agency: The National Black MBA Association

Amount: $1,000 to $10,000

The mission of the NBMBAA is to increase the number of African Americans who qualify for management positions in business. Applicants must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership potential and be active members of their community.

Sponsoring Agency: Robert Toigo Foundation

Amount: Varies

Dedicated to prepare minority professionals for the finance industry the Toigo Foundation awards 50 or more exceptional minority MBA candidates from a variety of schools. Recipients receive career guidance and support from a mentor.

Students can pursue graduate scholarships offered by clubs and organizations wishing to increase the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders in advanced business-related professions. Find available MBA scholarships:

Sponsoring Agency: Against the Grain Productions

Amount: Up to $1500

Graduate students with a strong leadership and community service experience and contribution are eligible for this award. Applicants must submit a video presentation and essay and participate in an interview.

Sponsoring Agency: American Institute of CPAs

Amount: Up to $5,000

This scholarship is awarded to outstanding minority students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement, leadership and commitment in pursuing a CPA credential.

Sponsoring Agency: Asian Pacific Fund

Amount: $1,000

Students of Chinese descent pursuing a graduate degree in economics and demonstrate financial need are eligible for this scholarship.

Sponsoring Agency: Japanese American Citizens League

Amount: Varies

Named for two former Topaz concentration camp prisoners, this scholarship is for outstanding graduate students who wish to pursue a career in social justice and service to their communities.

Sponsoring Agency: Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership

Amount: Up to $4,000 stipend

Asian Pacific students who are American citizens can earn a stipend for working a full-time summer internship in public service in the Washington, D.C. area.

In an effort to diversify the workplace, many schools, clubs and organizations offer scholarships for minority students pursuing MBA degrees. For instance, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) strives to help Hispanic and Latino students fund their education. Find available MBA scholarships:

Sponsoring Agency: Association of Latino Professionals for America

Amount: $2,000 to $10,000

Established in 1972, the ALPFA aims to assist Latinos in becoming leaders in the business community. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average and be pursuing a graduate degree in business.

Sponsoring Agency: Chicana/Latina Foundation

Amount: $1,500

Female graduate students must be hold a 3.0 grade point average to be considered for this award. Recipients must attend the CLF Leadership Institute in August and February.

Sponsoring Agency: Consortium for Graduate Study in Management

Amount: Full year’s tuition

The Consortium is dedicated to increasing the representation of minority MBA students. It is able to offer full-tuition fellowships to about 70 percent of those admitted to its member schools.

Sponsoring Agency: Credit Suisse

Amount: Up to $30,000

Candidates for this award should be full-time Hispanic/Latino MBA students who want to pursue a career in banking. Applicants should demonstrate leadership as well as academic and professional achievement.

National Society of Hispanic MBAs Foundation

Amount: Non-monetary (course, lesson books, workshop, etc.)

Recipients of this award receive in-person or online prep courses for the GMAT entrance exam to gain admission to an MBA program. Applicants must have two years of work experience and hold a bachelor’s degree from an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business institution.

Native Americans are underrepresented in the workforce in general, not to mention business administration positions. MBA graduate scholarships for Native Americans aim to increase workplace diversity and are available from a variety of clubs, organizations and agencies in the U.S. Find available MBA scholarships:

Sponsoring Agency: Casualty Actuarial Society & Society of Actuaries

Amount: Up to $4,000

This scholarship is designed for students pursuing a career in the actuarial profession. Applicants must have at least one birth parent who is a member of a Native American Indian Tribe.

Sponsoring Agency: Cherokee Nation

Amount: $1,000

Open to tribal citizens who are permanent residents of the Cherokee Nation Service Area are eligible for this graduate school scholarship.

Sponsoring Agency: American Indian Education Foundation

Amount: Varies

Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students are eligible for this award. Recipients must be enrolled in six to 18 credit hours of graduate-level classes at an accredited, on-campus graduate school.

Sponsoring Agency: Consortium for Graduate Study in Management

Amount: Full year’s tuition

The Consortium is dedicated to increasing the representation of minority MBA students. It is able to offer full-tuition fellowships to about 70 percent of those admitted to its member schools.

Sponsoring Agency: Credit Suisse

Amount: Up to $30,000

Candidates for this award should be full-time MBA students of Native American descent with a strong interest in pursuing a career in banking. They should also have academic and professional achievement and a proven record of leadership.

Sponsoring Agency: Association of American Indian Affairs

Amount: $1,500

This one-year scholarship supports graduate students in a variety of business-related fields.

Women pursuing their MBA are preparing for a successful career and all that it entails — financial independence, prosperity and a plan for retirement. Find available MBA scholarships:

Sponsoring Agency: C200 Foundation

Amount: Up to $10,000

Designed for first-year female MBA students, this scholarship is awarded both on merit and financial need. Applicants should exemplify leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit and a commitment to giving back to others.

Sponsoring Agency: American Association of University Women

Amount: $2,000 to $12,000

This scholarship is available to women who want to advance their career by earning a higher degree. Women of color and those pursuing their first advanced degree receive primary consideration.

Sponsoring Agency: Forté Foundation

Amount: Undisclosed

This scholarship aims to increase the number of women participating in MBA programs. In addition to a financial award, recipients also receive mentorship and leadership development opportunities and a lifelong connection with the Forté Foundation community.

Sponsoring Agency: Financial Women’s Association

Amount: $10,000

Each year, MBA candidates from five of New York City’s schools are awarded this scholarship based on merit, academic accomplishment and demonstrated leadership.

Sponsoring Agency: The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation

Amount: Varies

This scholarship is open to women over 25 years old who hold a bachelor’s degree in business and want to continue their education with a master’s degree.

Tips for Landing MBA Scholarships

Before securing MBA scholarships, students need to apply. And before applying, they need to research. So, where exactly should they start? Getting into an MBA program is the jumping off point for most fruitful scholarship searches, enabling students to get an idea of what they will be asked to pay and what the school can offer in scholarships. This section provides tips for landing a scholarship and funding an MBA degree, from applying to schools to accepting awards.

  • Apply early

    With so many highly qualified applicants, MBA scholarships can be competitive, especially those offered by top-choice schools. A student can get a head start on the competition by sending in a completed application as early as possible, which also demonstrates to the school that the student is serious about attending.

  • Be a great candidate

    The best way to land an MBA scholarship is to be the candidate schools are looking for. That often means having a high GMAT score, a strong undergraduate GPA and solid work experience. For need-based scholarships, it’s essential for students to prove they qualify for financial aid, typically by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA® )

  • Get accepted first

    Once accepted, MBA programs consider all students when awarding scholarships. This means students should take extra caution to ensure they present themselves well in their applications.

  • Negotiate

    It’s not unusual for qualified candidates to receive acceptance letters from multiple MBA programs, each with its own scholarship offer. Students may be able to negotiate for more scholarship money from their top choice. It can simply be a matter of saying, “I have other acceptance letters and scholarship offers. Can you do better?”

  • Research, research, research

    It’s important for students to research MBA scholarship programs offered by as many sources as possible to get an idea of what qualifications they meet. For instance, there are scholarships for minorities, scholarships from clubs and member organizations, and other options.

  • Talk to MBA graduates

    Former students are good sources of information about scholarships. Talking to recent MBA alumni about possible funding opportunities can be helpful. Many schools offer online and in-person information sessions for their MBA programs, which are ideal for networking about potential scholarships, grants and fellowships.

  • Triple-check all of the requirements

    Each scholarship has its own guidelines for applicants. Students should make sure they qualify for each specific scholarship before applying. For instance, scholarship guidelines can require recipients to be from a specific ethnic background or be dues-paying members of an organization.

Ask an Expert: Do’s and Don’ts for MBA Scholarships

Eric Sargent graduated from the University of Virginia in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and is working toward an online MBA. He is an enrollment advisor for the University of Miami’s Online Enrollment Department, where he advises students in the graduate business programs, including the MBA program.

Do
Contact a school advisor directly

Some colleges and universities will not publish all of their scholarships on the school’s website. For instance, we are currently offering MBA scholarships for our upcoming spring semester but are not posting the scholarships online. By contacting their advisors, students can learn about all of the different scholarship options based on their specific background.

Apply to scholarships outside of the university

The school that you are applying to is not the only resource for receiving scholarships. There are some online websites, such as www.fastweb.com, that are devoted to scholarships for students. Students should spend time researching opportunities and applying to as many scholarships as possible.

Apply to as many scholarships as you are eligible for

It is unwise to only apply to one and expect to receive the award. Due to the high level of competition for scholarships, students should apply to as many as they can to increase their chances of securing an award.

Don’t
Pressure advisors or administrators into awarding a scholarship

Student advisors are always looking to help students and will do their best to give scholarships to as many students as possible. However, if a student does not meet the criteria for a scholarship, then [that student] shouldn’t pursue it any further. It is beyond the scope of staff to bend the rules and give out the award to an ineligible student.

Panic if you do not receive a scholarship that you apply for

Don’t make yourself anxious. There are many options outside of scholarships to help fund an MBA degree. Consider speaking to your employer about tuition reimbursement, or take advantage of federal financial aid.

Pay to apply to a scholarship

You shouldn’t have to pay money to get a scholarship, yet there are many sites that ask students to submit payment before applying. These are usually scams, and students should beware. It’s better to only use reputable sites for a scholarship search. Your advisor can help you locate the sites that have the best reputation.

Other Ways to Finance Your MBA

What if you have trouble landing a scholarship? With the prospect of paying thousands of dollars in tuition looming, you’ll need a solution. Fortunately, scholarships aren’t the only way to pay for an MBA program. In fact, there are many other sources for funding for those who know where to look. Here are several ways for students to finance an MBA that don’t involve scholarships.

Federal student loans

Federal Direct and Direct GRAD PLUS Loans are unsubsidized loans that are disbursed into students’ accounts and accrue interest while they attend school. Federal student loans have fixed interest rates, low fees and flexible repayment options. Students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as a first step to obtaining student loans.

Private loans

Private loans, also called private alternative loans, are offered by private lenders to help students pay for tuition and educational expenses. Private loans are not subsidized and have fixed interest rates and fees. Students qualify for private loans based on their credit score and credit history.

Teaching or research assistantships

Assistantships provide monies to students in return for working as assistants to professors, either in the classroom or in a research capacity. Although this can require heavy oversight of undergraduate students or a lot of time in the library, each school has its own rules regarding assistantships. To get detailed guidelines, students should check with the academic department, research center or administrative office at the schools they are applying to.

Corporate fellowships

Corporations often award tuition fellowships to talented students who may excel in an MBA-related career. In return, students agree to work as interns or full-time employees for these corporations after graduation. Fellowships commonly target underrepresented groups as a way of increasing workplace diversity.

Employer reimbursement programs

Various employers offer reimbursement plans as a benefit to their employees. Some pay per course, while others pay a fixed percentage of a student’s total tuition. There may be stipulations requiring students to achieve a certain grade to qualify for reimbursement; information is usually available from the human resources department.

Savings

Some students prepare for an MBA program by saving money for years before they get started. Whether it’s by putting away a percentage of each paycheck or taking a part-time job on weekends, saving money during and after an undergraduate program can help cover expenses for an MBA later on.

Additional Scholarship Resources

For students who need additional help financing their MBA education, there are even more resources available online. Scholarship websites allow students to locate MBA scholarships — either by clicking on links or by searching databases with filters that might include school type, major, ethnicity, gender and location. In addition to these scholarship websites, most MBA programs provide a list of external funding resources for students to explore. The following websites provide helpful scholarship resources for MBA students:

The College Board

Students can set filters to search MBA scholarships in this database, which includes more than 2,200 programs.

Collegenet.com

This site has a searchable database that allows students to find available MBA scholarships to pay for grad school.

Fastweb.com

The largest free scholarship search engine requires students to complete a profile to access a database of over 1.5 million scholarships, including MBA scholarships.

Federal Student Aid

The U.S. Department of Education publishes this website with information about how to pursue grants, scholarships and fellowships.

Finaid.org

By entering the keyword “business,” students can browse a list of scholarships for MBA students.

FindTuition.com

Students can search this database of 1.7 million scholarships and explore links to MBA scholarships.

Forte Fellows Program

The Forte Fellows Program offers fellowships to women pursuing a full-time, part-time or executive MBA at one of its sponsored business schools. The first step is to submit an MBA application to a participating school. In addition to financial benefits, recipients are exposed to leading companies.

GoodCall

This database allows students to filter results by application method, school level, major, ethnicity, gender, location and institution as they search for MBA scholarships.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund offers many merit-based scholarships for individuals of Hispanic heritage entering graduate school to study for various degrees, include MBAs.

LGBT Student Scholarship Database

This database offers general aid options for LGBT students, including those in MBA programs.

Peterson’s

The graduate scholarship search page of this website allows students to filter results for a list of available MBA scholarships.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

This is a VA-administered program for prospective students who have at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service since September 11, 2001, and are still on active duty (or were honorably discharged or discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days). The program pays all tuition and fees for in-state public schools or a portion of the tuition and fees for all other schools. Many colleges and universities that offer MBA degrees participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a component of the GI Bill that makes additional funds available to current and former members of the military.

ProFellow

More than 700 fellowships are available on this website. Students can filter the results for MBA-related awards.

SallieMae

Scholarships for a variety of college programs, including MBAs, are linked to this searchable database.

Scholars4Dev.com

International students can access a list of MBA scholarships, grants and fellowships designed for them.

Scholarshipdb.net

MBA students can search this free, comprehensive scholarship database from national and international sources, including universities and research organizations.

Scholarships.com

This general scholarship site includes a page of links to individual MBA scholarships.

Unigo

Students can access a list of links to individual MBA scholarships at this site.