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% – 6.65%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 7.10%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.99% – 6.44%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|1.99% – 6.43%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.19% – 6.08%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
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. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (“APR”)
There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.
For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
ELIGIBILITY & ELIGIBLE LOANS
Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).
Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.
All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to https://www.laurelroad.com/refinance-student-loans/refinance-parent-plus-loans/ for applicable terms and conditions.
For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.
The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.
The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.
POSTPONING OR REDUCING PAYMENTS
After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.
If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of June 23, 2020 and is subject to change.
2 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Splash Financial loans are available through arrangements with lending partners. Your loan application will be submitted to the lending partner and be evaluated at their sole discretion. For loans where a credit union is the lender, or a purchaser of the loan, in order to refinance your loans, you will need to become a credit union member.
The Splash Student Loan Refinance Program is not offered or endorsed by any college or university. Neither Splash Financial nor the lending partner are affiliated with or endorse any college or university listed on this website.
You should review the benefits of your federal student loan; it may offer specific benefits that a private refinance/consolidation loan may not offer. If you work in the public sector, are in the military or taking advantage of a federal department of relief program, such as income based repayment or public service forgiveness, you may not want to refinance, as these benefits do not transfer to private refinance/consolidation loans.
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 May 1, 2020.
Fixed APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rate options range from 2.88% (without autopay) to 7.27% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.88% per year to 6.21% per year for a 5-year term, 3.40% per year to 6.25% per year for a 7-year term, 3.45% to 5.08% for a 8-year term, 3.89% per year to 6.65% per year for a 10-year term, 4.18% per year to 5.11% per year for a 12-year term, 4.20% per year to 7.05% per year for a 15-year term, or 4.51% per year to 7.27% 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).
Variable APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Variable rate options range from 1.99% (with autopay) to 7.10% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Our lowest rate option is shown with a 0.25% autopay discount. Our highest rate option does not include an autopay discount. The variable rates are based on the Variable rate index, is based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of April 27, 2020, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.43763%. The interest rate on a variable rate loan is comprised of an index and margin added together. The margin is a fixed amount (disclosed at the time of your loan application) added each month to the index to determine the next month’s variable rate. Variable rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.01% per year to 6.30% per year for a 5-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.35% per year for a 7-year term, 2.09% per year to 3.92% per year for a 8-year term, 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 10-year term, 2.67% per year to 4.56% per year for a 12-year term, 3.44% per year to 6.65% per year for a 15-year term, 4.75% per year to 6.93% per year for a 20-year term, or 5.14% per year to 7.10% for a 25-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate may be between 9.00% and 16.00%, depending on loan term. The floor rate may be between 0.54% and 4.21%, depending on loan term. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 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 3.19% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.43% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.43% 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 June 15, 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 6/15/2020. 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.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
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 0.2% effective May 10, 2020.