RRSPs, scholarships, student loans some of the available options

The decision to go for an MBA can be an expensive one — a degree from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, for instance, will set you back more than $60,000. But there are several ways to pay for it, says Richard Powers, executive director of MBA programs at Rotman, and the rewards are worth it.

“(Students) have to look at the return on investment,” says Powers. “There’s a high cost in attaining the degree, both in terms of time and particularly in terms of tuition, but if you look at the difference in salary that you came in with, and the salary that you’re leaving with, that return on investment is there. Average salary coming in is in the mid-40s, average salary leaving was, I believe, $84,000 last year.”

The best way to cover costs, says Powers, is through a loan assistance program.


The Rotman school has the Scotia Professional Student Plan, in partnership with Scotiabank, which allows domestic students to borrow enough money to cover expenses for two years while the school pays the interest. Shortly after graduation students take over the payments. “But now you’ve got an income that can support those loans,” Powers says, “and it goes up from there.”

Other students work while earning their MBA. The Rotman school allows students in its three-year program to take classes in either the mornings or evenings, allowing for a 9-5 work schedule. The vast majority of three-year students still take advantage of the loan assistance program, says Powers. “They have a salary, but they’re still taking a loan.”

Prospective students could rely on their RRSPs, but Powers says there’s no reason to. “Most schools have loan assistance programs,” he says. “They’re set up a little bit differently, but the essence remains.”

Of course, there are plenty of scholarships available. “One of the requirements of deregulated tuition was the requirement that a minimum 30 per cent of the difference goes into student awards,” Powers says. “So you put that all together and really, tuition is not a barrier to entry.”

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