There are a number of ways students can pay for their MBA, says Charmaine Courtis, executive director of student services and international relations at York University’s Schulich School of Business.
“In the first place, students coming into the program have several years’ working experience, so they have savings,” she says. “They are also eligible to apply for student loans, and many people do that.”
Government loans are the most common financial aid among full-time students because the option is so widely known, says Sharan Girn, admissions adviser for Simon Fraser University’s graduate business programs. “However, if students do their research, they will find there are various other options available,” she says.
For instance, if a student has an RRSP, the Canada Revenue Agency offers the Lifelong Learning Plan, which allows students to withdraw from their RRSP to finance training or education, Girn says.
Bank loans are another option. Students from Schulich can apply for a preferred-rate line of credit from the Royal Bank of Canada, says Courtis, and the maximum available credit covers the cost of a two-year full-time program.
Paid internships are also common. “If students are doing a two-year program, they tend to break for a semester and work with a company,” says Courtis. “That’s a way to make some money and build credentials for graduation when you’re looking for a real job.”
Girn recommends contacting MITACS (mitacs.ca), which partners students with paid internships under their MITACS Accelerate Internship Program. “MITACS will put in 50 per cent and then the employer will put in 50 per cent,” she says.
Many universities offer students paid research or teaching assistantships, “so they’ll work in the classroom and receive a stipend for that,” says Courtis. “Many students also take part-time jobs.”
Occasionally, companies are willing to pay for their employees to earn an MBA, and many students will focus their final applied projects on their own companies, Girn says.
Finally, students should always apply for scholarships and bursaries. “Bursary money is awarded on the basis of need,” Courtis says, “while scholarship money is awarded on the basis of academic credentials.”
Both Courtis and Girn agree the benefits of earning an MBA are priceless. “I think the cost of the program should be viewed as an investment,” Girn says. “All of our graduate business programs provide students with a solid foundation in business. They can take those skills with them anywhere they go.”