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How Military Personnel Can Pay for an MBA

Veterans and active military personnel interested in obtaining a Master of Business Administration (MBA) have a range of options to help them mitigate or even negate the traditionally hefty cost of business school. Although there is not a one-size-fit-all pathway for military personnel pursuing an MBA, the government and other organizations have gone out of their way to ensure veterans and active service members have every opportunity to close the gap.

Tallying the Post-9/11 GI Bill

Most in the military have heard of the GI Bill and its generous allowance and funding. However, the costs of attending a competitive school often far exceed that amount. For instance, business school can cost as much as $40,000 including tuition, mandatory fees, secondary courses and other program fees. Meanwhile, the current maximum GI Bill payment rates come out to $20,235.02 per year, in addition to a housing allowance of approximately $8,500 for online students, leaving a void between MBA costs and financial assistance for military personnel.

Closing the gap with financial assistance

Fortunately, the current GI Bill has a number of provisions to defray the costs of a college degree. One is called the Yellow Ribbon program, whereby the government will match dollar-for-dollar additional scholarship the prospective school would be willing to grant within the scope of the program. Additionally, some military scholarships are available to MBA students who are active duty, reserve military or National Guard. Military spouses may also be eligible for scholarships.

There are other options to reduce military personnel's out-of-pocket costs associated with the MBA. Many institutes across the world, including many competitive schools, have developed customized online MBA programs that deliver a challenging curriculum at a reduced cost. Some of the programs do have an in-person component at the beginning; however, a 100 percent online MBA, such as the one at Boise State, helps veterans save money by giving them more options to live in an area with a lower cost of living. Online MBA programs also come with different cost structures that often translate to robust savings for the prospective student.

Adding the additional benefits, from book allowances to ongoing drilling and institute-based fellowships, the remaining balance can become a manageable financial investment. For instance, some military MBA students seek to bootstrap their entire time in graduate school in order to finish their degree without debt.

As mentioned earlier, every person's situation is different and the sheer number of variables makes it difficult to create a simple formula for military personnel seeking to obtain an MBA. For that reason, the Department of Veterans Affairs has created a GI Bill comparison tool that allows you to narrow down an array of search criteria. The tool even helps you to look at the cost/benefits of each school in the database, providing a snapshot of expected out-of-pocket costs. After tallying the GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon, and other military benefits, you might be able to bring the costs of an MBA down to zero.

Learn more about Boise State’s online MBA program.


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