Getting a masters in business administration (MBA) can be a lucrative opportunity with great earning potential. The downside? Many MBA graduates from top business schools have steep student loan balances.
According to U.S. News, the average student loan debt among MBA graduates in 2014 was $56,157. MBA grads from top-tier private schools could easily rack up six figures in student loan debt while earning this advanced degree.
If you’re an MBA graduate or considering pursuing an MBA degree, there are ways you can reduce your debt through repayment assistance. In this guide, we’ll cover ways to get your MBA student loans reduced or even forgiven.
MBA student loan repayment assistance programs by school
Under most of these programs, you must commit to a life of public service at a qualified agency or nonprofit. In other words, you’d be trading a potentially high salary in the private sector for getting student loan assistance by working in the public sector.
Find out if your school has a loan repayment assistance program. If your school isn’t on the list, 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 may be eligible for loan assistance.
Graduates can apply for this program at any time within the first five years of graduation. Candidates must work full-time (classified as 35 hours or more per week) at a nonprofit or government agency, or other social purpose ventures as described in their eligibility requirements.
The Fuqua Loan Assistance Program offers loan forgiveness awards to Duke grads with MBA student loans who work in the public sector and nonprofit fields. Candidates must be employed full-time by a qualifying nonprofit or government agency.
In order to qualify, candidates must apply for the program within three years of graduation. You can receive up to $8,000 in loan assistance each year and be eligible for the program so long as you are employed at a qualifying agency within eight years of your graduation.
Ivy league titan, Harvard, was ranked number one for their MBA program by Bloomberg Business in 2015 and has multiple programs to help MBA grads reduce their student loans.
The HBS Nonprofit/Public Sector Loan Repayment Assistance Program provides aid to MBA graduates employed in the nonprofit and public sectors. MBA student loan borrowers can apply for this program within 10 years of graduation, though preference is given to those who apply within the first three years after graduation.
Awards are based on a number of factors, including total amount of debt, job fit, and income. Candidates with salaries of $80,000 or less are eligible for up to $10,000 each year. If your salary is higher than that, you may be eligible for partial assistance.
If you’re a Harvard graduate pursuing for-profit entrepreneurial endeavors, you may be in luck as well. The Rock Loan Reduction program provides one-time, needs-based awards ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 to MBA grads pursuing entrepreneurship.
Candidates looking to reduce their MBA student loans through this program must demonstrate significant financial need and serve as a founder or president of their entrepreneurial venture.
Graduates working in the private sector with an emphasis on social enterprise aren’t totally left out either. You can check out the HBS Loan Reduction for Private Sector Employees (must log-in) to see if you qualify.
New York University
Did you get your MBA from NYU Sterns School of Business and now work at a nonprofit or in public service? If so, you may be eligible for the Loan Assistance Repayment Program through NYU. This program is designed to encourage graduates to work in leadership positions at organizations that have a social mission.
Stern MBA graduates are eligible for loan assistance within 10 years of graduation. Candidates must be employed full-time at a nonprofit, in public service, or other organization with a social mission.
Applicants whose salary is $100,000 or less are eligible for assistance and can receive a maximum award of $15,000 per year. How much you receive is based on how much you borrowed for your education, as well as your income.
Graduates of the MBA program at Northwestern who pursue a life in the nonprofit world or public service may be eligible for the Kellogg School of Management’s Loan Assistance Program.
Candidates must make $85,000 or less to qualify for aid. Only the first $120,000 in student loan debt is available for loan repayment assistance.
The graduate school of business at Stanford University offers loan assistance for MBA graduates who work in the nonprofit or public sector 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 an organization for a minimum of six months.
If your income is $75,000 or less, you receive the full amount of your annual loan payments; if your income exceeds $75,000, 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 MBA grads employed in the nonprofit or public sector.
In order 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. For example, you can receive full loan repayment assistance if your modified gross income is $80,000 or less. If you make more than that, you are eligible for partial loan assistance. However, if your modified gross income exceeds $90,000, you are no longer eligible for the program.
If you earn $80,000 or less, you are given top priority; anyone can apply, however, regardless of salary. How much you receive is based on the amount of debt you have. The maximum award is $20,000 each year.
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 employees in the nonprofit/public sector can receive funding to help repay their student loans. Award amounts vary; the average payment for 2015-2016 is $3,875.08. Candidates must be a U.S. citizen and a U.S. permanent resident to qualify for this program.
University of Pennsylvania
The John M. 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 program is open to Wharton alumni who are within five years of graduation. Though the program is quite competitive, eligible candidates could receive up to $20,000 each year to help reduce MBA student loans.
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 and the MAM programs are eligible for repayment assistance if they work at a qualified nonprofit or government organization.
If you make up to $85,300, you can receive repayment assistance for 100 percent of your payments. If your income is between $85,300-$119,000, you are eligible for partial support. If your salary exceeds $119,000, you are no longer eligible for the program. The maximum award is $10,100 per year.
Other sources of help for MBA student loans
As you’ve probably seen by now, in order to reduce your MBA student loans, you must go to a certain school that offers loan forgiveness/repayment assistance and most likely commit the early part of your career to the nonprofit/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 loans.
If you work in the private sector, consider getting your loans forgiven through an income-driven 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 often results in spending more money on interest.
It’s important to note that your forgiven debt under the PSLF will not be considered taxable income, whereas any forgiven loans under an income-driven plan will be considered taxable income. Sure, your tax bill will be less than what you would have owed, but it’s key to prepare for the possibility of a 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 loan forgiveness. Your school is a great place to start your search, so be sure to contact them and ask about student loan repayment help even if they’re not on this list.
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