Written by Alyssa Walker

Despite the MBA's heavy price tag, it's worth it -- at least that's what you're telling yourself, right? Don't worry. It is.

Slogging through all that debt may not be a big deal if you have your sights set on a high-flying job when you graduate. If you don't? Well, there's some good news out there as long as you are willing to get a little creative with your funding plan.

No funding plan for that MBA? Just loans? Don't sweat it. Take a look at these four crackerjack funding ideas and go for it!

1. Crowdfunding

Yep. Anyone can do it. But few can do it well. Be one of the ones who does it well.

What is it, exactly? Well, the idea of it is an old one: asking people for money. At its core, crowdfunding requires an idea or campaign where people donate to fund it. 

Crowdfunding is slick -- companies like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, CrowdRise make the process easy. It's important that you do your homework, though.

Crowdfunding campaigns left to languish... well, they languish. You're essentially asking for funding from strangers online. You need to be convincing and clear in what you intend to deliver as an MBA graduate -- and you need to be realistic in your expectations.

You can't rely solely on crowdfunding to fund your entire degree. If you're thoughtful about it, you can ask for part of your MBA focused on a specific area, like this: "I'm seeking $10,000 to do X in my MBA program. Here's my deliverable..." Yes, your MBA costs a lot more than that, but $10,000 in crowdfunding is $10,000 less that you have to worry about.

While setting up the campaign is relatively easy and figuring out what to ask for is easy, pay attention to how you launch it online. Content matters. You need a text- and visually-rich content machine running on your campaign page. Use pictures and video, testimonials, and recommendations.

Bottom line? You need to engage these crowdfunding strangers and get them to care about you.

Be thankful. Deliver what you promise. Crowdfunding can work!

2. Employer sponsorship

While crowdfunding is a lot of work and can pay off, employer sponsorship offers a different alternative that requires more work -- but spread out over time.

Some employers contribute funding towards your MBA costs on the condition that you return to work for a specified time after you graduate.

How do you do this? First, work for an employer who offers this perk. You will probably have to work for a larger company or organization that has a dedicated MBA program. Smaller businesses may also offer this perk. It is up to you to find out.

If your employer doesn't offer this benefit, your quest for MBA funding isn't over. If you think you may be able to convince your employer that the new skill set you'll bring to the table will be useful to the company, approach senior members of the company with a proposal. Remember: they're investing in you. Make it worth their while.

3. Graduate assistantship

Find out if your desired MBA program offers graduate or teaching assistantships to offset the costs of studying. 

If accepted, you will likely work part-time in exchange for either a stipend or direct tuition. Not only are these great opportunities to help you pay for your MBA, but they also offer valuable learning experiences -- and the opportunity to network.

Remember: that network helps you in the future as you look for jobs.

While these competitive positions require your time and energy, they are incredible opportunities. Don't pass one up!

4. Alchemy

Nope, not the kind that turns everything into gold. (Although that would be nice!)

Turn experience into credit. If you've been working in your desired business field since you graduated with your bachelor's degree, find out if your school offers credit for viable experiences. Not all programs allow it, but for those that do, this one is a must!

What do you have to do? Demonstrate that you understand enough about a subject or class based on your experience to "test out" of that class -- and still earn the credit. While you may earn the credit, you may still need to take an exam or submit an essay to prove that you really know what you say you do. 

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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