Ultimate Student Loan Repayment Guide for MBA Grads

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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.

Columbia University

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.

Duke University

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.

Harvard University

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.

Northwestern University

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.

Stanford University

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 University

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.

Final word

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 7 lenders of 2019!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

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 3.45% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.14% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.79% 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 September 6, 2019, 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 09/06/2019. 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 hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2018 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 SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.49% APR to 7.94% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.14% APR to 7.84% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.14% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.14% minus 0.15% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.  
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

FIXED APR
Fixed rate options consist of a range from 3.50% per year to 5.55% per year for a 5-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.00% per year for a 7-year term, 4.30% per year to 6.40% per year for a 10-year term, 4.60% per year to 6.80% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.05% per year to 7.02% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. The fixed interest rate will apply until the loan is paid in full (whether before or after default, and whether before or after the scheduled maturity date of the loan). The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.50% per year to 5.55% per year for a 5-year term would be from $184.00 to $193.00. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.00% per year to 6.00% per year for a 7-year term would be from $138 to $148. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.30% per year to 6.40% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104 to $115. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.60% per year to 6.80% per year for a 15-year term would be from $79 to $91. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.05% per year to 7.02% per year for a 20-year term would be from $68 to $80.

However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.

VARIABLE APR
Variable rate options consist of a range from 2.43% per year to 6.05% per year for a 5-year term, 3.75% per year to 6.10% per year for a 7-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.15% per year for a 10-year term, 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 15-year term, or 4.50% per year to 6.65% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.25% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 1.50% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 1.75% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.00% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.25% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 2.43% per year to 6.05% per year for a 5-year term would be from $179 to $195. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.75% per year to 6.10% per year for a 7-year term would be from $137 to $148. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.00% per year to 6.15% per year for a 10-year term would be from $103 to $114. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 15-year term would be from $77 to $88. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.50% per year to 6.65% per year for a 20-year term would be from $65 to $77.

However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.

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.


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.


5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). 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 2.19% effective August 10, 2019.


6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.


7 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

College Ave Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

1College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.

2All rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

3$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees.

4This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 08/01/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

2.14% – 6.79%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

2.14% – 7.84%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

2.43% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.43% – 7.60%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

2.14% – 8.01%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

2.06% – 8.93%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.74% – 7.24%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit College Ave

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

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