Home Media SCU Leavey Blog The Financial Aspects of an Online MBA Program: Tuition Costs, Scholarships, and ROI

The Financial Aspects of an Online MBA Program: Tuition Costs, Scholarships, and ROI

02 Feb
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Pursuing an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) has become a popular choice for professionals seeking to progress in their education and careers. In the United States in 2022, more than 45,000 candidates were enrolled in online MBA programs, and almost 44,000 attended full-time, on-campus MBA programs.1

This post guides you through the financial aspects of online MBA programs. It answers questions about tuition costs and resources for financial aid and offers practical advice for applicants to the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. Moreover, it breaks down the return on investment, so you can make the best decision for your future.

Online MBA Costs and Payment Options

The financial landscape of online MBA programs is complex. From understanding the tuition and fees to running cost comparisons and exploring payment options and financial aid resources, there's much to consider.

MBA Tuition Structures

The largest single expense of this endeavor is the tuition. At SCU, the online MBA program is comprised of 70 required units, traditionally taken over two years. At $1,277/unit in the 2023-2024 academic year, the total came to $89,390.

Typical Program Costs

The total cost of an MBA involves more than tuition. Other potential expenses include books, course materials, technology fees, graduation fees, and travel for the residential components of the program.

You should also budget for application and exam fees as well as test preparatory materials. As of early 2024, the fee to apply to Leavey online programs is $158, and the GMAT exam costs $275 (in person) or $300 (online).2 However, SCU alumni may receive waivers for the application fee. Exam waivers are also available on a case-by-case basis. Contact an admissions outreach advisor for more information.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Numerous resources are available to help you fund your MBA. In addition to employer funding, potential financial aid options include scholarships, loans, and financing from private or public third-party organizations. Federal grants are available, as are grants from individual states, schools, and private organizations, though most grants for graduate students come from business schools and private foundations.3

Federal student loans are also a means of online MBA tuition assistance. While graduate students are not eligible for subsidized loans, they can borrow up to $20,500 each year in direct unsubsidized loans with a relatively low interest rate.4 Grad PLUS loans are also available for those who require further assistance, but the terms are less advantageous.

Veterans and active military service members often qualify for additional financial aid programs.

SCU MBA Scholarships

Scholarship opportunities at Santa Clara University include merit-based scholarships of up to $5,000 offered to applicants with exceptional academic records or work experience. These funds are awarded after acceptance into the program.

Furthermore, eligible Online MBA students will receive a $500 scholarship to cover costs related to the GMAT exam. Additional academic merit scholarships are also available to online students with high GMAT scores.

Tips for Financing Your MBA

Increase your chances of receiving more extensive financial aid with these tips:

  1. Research extensively: Take time to research different scholarships and loans. Always write down the eligibility criteria and application deadlines for each.
  2. Tailor your application: Make your application specific to each scholarship’s unique objectives by highlighting relevant skills, experiences, and goals.
  3. Mind the details: Pay close attention to all instructions. Be sure to submit all required documents and keep your application error-free.
  4. Start early: You’ll need time to compile scholarship applications and compare loan offers.

Distinguish between recurring and one-time opportunities. For example, students pursuing an MBA in a multi-year program can take out a government loan for each year.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Almost 72% of first-year business school students in 2023 chose increasing earning potential among their top five reasons for attending.5 Their strategy works. Recent studies indicate that MBA salary increases easily outpace inflation, and the average salary bump is an impressive $85,000 for a completed degree.6

For SCU students, the ROI refers to the potential financial and career-related gains you can expect in return for the tuition costs and investment of your time, including:

The easiest way to calculate the potential ROI of online MBA programs is to multiply your likely salary increase by the number of years you intend to work and subtract the cost of the online MBA. To find the rate of return, divide this number by the tuition.

Other benefits such as increased job satisfaction, improved work-life balance, and enhanced leadership skills are also part of the ROI, but are not easily quantifiable.

Financial Planning for the Cost of an Online MBA

The key to an affordable online MBA journey is effective financial planning. Budget for annual tuition fees and other expenses with the following steps:

  1. Calculate the total cost: Start by calculating the total cost of your online MBA, including tuition, books, and any other associated academic fees.
  2. Estimate living expenses: These include rent, groceries, utilities, transportation, and personal expenses.
  3. Consider income sources: Students’ potential income sources could be from employment, savings, scholarships, or loans.
  4. Create a plan: Using this information, plan your budget and allocate funds to different categories.

As you pursue your degree, it’s important to monitor your spending and minimize additional debt. However, emergencies happen, so set aside a portion of your income or savings for unexpected costs.

Alumni Success

Online MBA graduates from the Leavey School of Business quickly find that their investment pays off. In the United States, the median estimated starting salary for an MBA graduate in 2023 was $125,000.7

Some of this success is due to the powerful alumni network. SCU’s strong presence in Silicon Valley helps thousands of business school alumni secure roles in the region's tech-focused companies. It’s also the second-largest feeder school for the five biggest tech companies.8

Realize the Online MBA Return on Investment

Gain the connections, experience, and expertise to become a Silicon Valley Professional. As an Online MBA student in the Leavey School of Business, you’ll expand your professional network through collaboration with your cohort and a network of alumni leaders.

Led by our prestigious faculty, the robust curriculum gives you the choice to pursue a broad-based MBA or complete a concentration in data science and business analytics, marketing, finance, entrepreneurship and new ventures, or leading innovative organizations.

Balance your education with your professional and personal commitments. The flexible online structure and frequent start dates accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals.

Make the most of this chance to define your future. Schedule a call with an admissions outreach advisor today.