Getting a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can be a lucrative opportunity with high earning potential. The downside? Many MBA graduates from top business schools have steep student loan balances, even though there is opportunity for MBA loan forgiveness.
According to a Bloomberg Businessweek survey of 10,000 business school graduates from Class of 2018 at schools around the world, almost half of MBA students at prestigious universities are borrowing at least $100,000 to finance their post-graduate education. The average Harvard MBA graduate, for example, leaves school with about $90,000 in student loans.
If you’re an MBA graduate or are considering pursuing an MBA degree, consider some of the ways you can attack your debt through MBA loan forgiveness or repayment assistance programs. In this guide, we’ll cover ways to get your MBA student loans reduced or even eliminated.
MBA student loan forgiveness, repayment assistance programs by school
Under most of these MBA forgiveness and repayment assistance programs, you must commit to a period of public service at a qualified agency, nonprofit or government job. In other words, you’d be trading a potentially high salary in the private sector for getting MBA student loan assistance in the often-lower-paying public sector.
First, check whether your school has an MBA loan repayment assistance program. And if your school isn’t on the list below, read on for other options to get your MBA student loans forgiven.
Through the Columbia Business School Loan Assistance Program, MBA grads from this Ivy League school who work in the nonprofit or public sector or with a social venture may be eligible for loan assistance.
Graduates can apply for the assistance program within the first five years after graduation. Candidates must work full time (classified as 35 hours or more per week) at a nonprofit or government agency or other social-purpose employer as described in Columbia’s eligibility requirements.
The Rex and Ellen Adams Loan Assistance Program offers student loan forgiveness awards to graduates of the daytime MBA program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business if they serve public agencies or nonprofit organizations. Candidates must work full time for a qualifying employer.
To be eligible, candidates must apply for the program within three years of graduation. You can receive up to $15,000 in loan assistance each year and remain eligible for the program, as long as you are employed at the qualifying agency within eight years of your graduation.
If you went to Harvard or are set to attend the school, then you’re in luck. The Ivy League titan has multiple programs to help MBA grads reduce their student loans.
Its HBS Nonprofit/Public Sector Loan Repayment Assistance Program provides aid to MBA graduates employed in managerial positions in the nonprofit or public sectors, as well as (starting in 2017) those working in select for-profit enterprise positions. MBA student loan borrowers can apply for this program within 10 years of graduation, although preference is given to those who apply within the first three years after graduating.
Awards are based on a number of factors, including the applicant’s earnings, qualifications, need-based debt and job fit. Candidates with salaries of $90,000 or less are eligible for up to $10,000 each year. If your salary is higher than that, you may still be eligible for partial assistance.
If you’re a Harvard graduate working in for-profit entrepreneurial endeavors, meanwhile, you too have a shot at repayment assistance. The Rock Loan Reduction program provides one-time, needs-based awards ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 to current graduating MBA students pursuing entrepreneurship.
Candidates looking to reduce their MBA student loans through this program must demonstrate significant financial need and serve as a founder or senior executive of their entrepreneurial venture.
Graduates working in the private sector with an emphasis on social enterprise aren’t totally left out either. Its HBS Loan Reduction for Private Sector Employees program offers a one-time loan reduction of $5,000 to $15,000 at the time of graduation to qualified students working in the private sector .
New York University
Did you get your MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business and now work in a leadership position at a place with a social mission? If so, you may be eligible for NYU’s Loan Assistance Program. It’s designed to encourage graduates to use their skills to benefit an organization that might typically pay a lower salary.
Stern MBA graduates are eligible for this loan assistance within 10 years of the date of their graduation. Candidates must be employed full-time at a nonprofit, in public service or with another organization that carries out a social mission.
Graduates with gross annual compensation of up to $100,000 are eligible for assistance and can receive a maximum award of $15,000 per year. The amount you receive is based on how much you borrowed for your education, as well as on your income level.
Graduates of the MBA program at Northwestern who pursue a career in the nonprofit world or in public service may be eligible for the Kellogg School of Management’s Social Impact Loan Assistance Program.
Applicants must make an adjusted annual income of $105,000 or less to qualify for aid, and they can receive a maximum of $15,000 annually.
The Stanford Graduate School of Business offers loan assistance for MBA grads who work in the nonprofit or public sectors, including local and national government jobs, through the Stanford MBA Nonprofit/Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Candidates must work at least part time (20 hours) with the intention of remaining at the organization for a minimum of six months.
If your adjusted income is $95,000 or less, you can receive the full amount of your annual loan payments. If your income exceeds that threshold, you can receive partial loan forgiveness.
University of California, Berkeley
The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, offers the Haas Loan Repayment Assistance Program for business grads employed in the nonprofit or public sector. To qualify for this MBA student loan assistance program, candidates must work more than half-time at a government agency or nonprofit.
The amount of loan assistance you receive is based on your gross income. You can receive full loan repayment assistance if your modified gross income is up to $95,000, but if you make more, you are still eligible for partial loan assistance.
University of Michigan
MBA grads from the University of Michigan who work in the public sector or pursue nonprofit employment may be eligible for the Ross Loan Repayment Assistance Program.
Under this program, full-time workers for an eligible employer can receive funding to help repay their student loans. Award amounts vary, with the average payment for 2018-2019 reported at $3,916.50. Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to qualify for this program.
University of Pennsylvania
The Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund for Public Service is designed to encourage Wharton MBA grads to pursue meaningful careers in public service and nonprofit sectors.
This option is open to Wharton alumni who graduated within the last five years. Eligible candidates could receive up to $20,000 per year to help reduce their MBA student loan balance. Criteria include career goals, salary and social impact activity.
Yale MBA grads working in the public or nonprofit sectors may be eligible for loan repayment assistance through the Yale School of Management Loan Forgiveness Program. Graduates of the MBA, Master of Advanced Management and Master of Advanced Management programs are eligible for repayment assistance if they work full time at a qualified nonprofit or government organization.
The amount you get depends on your annual income. If you made up to $85,000 in 2018, you could receive repayment assistance for 10% of your eligible loan principal. If your income was between $85,000 and $102,000, you could qualify for prorated support, but if you made more than $102,000, you weren’t eligible.
Other sources of help for MBA student loans
As you can see by now, going to a school that offers loan forgiveness or repayment assistance can help reduce your MBA student loans, especially if you’re willing to commit the early part of your career to the nonprofit or public sector.
You can also consider the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program — if you have federal student loans and work for a qualified agency for 10 years, you may be eligible for forgiveness of your remaining student loan balance.
If you work in the private sector, on the other hand, consider moving your federal student loans to an income-driven repayment plan. Under these plans, your monthly payments are capped at a certain percentage of your income and any remaining debt will be forgiven after 20 to 25 years. Keep in mind, however, that extending your repayment term generally results in paying more money on interest over the life of the loan.
It’s also important to note that your forgiven debt under the PSLF is not considered taxable income, whereas any forgiven loans under an income-driven plan is considered taxable income. Sure, your tax obligations might be less than what you would have owed, but it’s key to prepare for the possibility of a big tax bill.
If you have MBA student loans and are looking for relief, there are ways to reduce your debt and get repayment assistance and/or MBA student loan forgiveness. Your school is a great place to start your search, so be sure to contact your financial aid office to ask about student loan repayment help, even if it’s not on the list above.
Marty Minchin contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.99% – 5.64%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.09%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 6.77%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|1.99% – 5.41%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews! |
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of September 10, 2020.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.16% effective August 10, 2020.