Financial Aid for MBA Programs

Pursuit of an MBA is an investment in your future.

To prepare for the investment of business school, it is important to make sure that you are financially ready to take on the costs associated with attendance.

Learning to manage your money is a critical life skill, but challenging. Pursuing an advanced degree is a great time to master the art of budgeting and prepare for the years to come by saving and investing in your future. By being proactive and making good decisions now, you can ensure manageable loan debt upon graduation. Check out Personal Finance at Cornell to learn about finances at Cornell and beyond!

There are ways to limit the amount of education debt you accumulate as a student. The easiest way to reduce your overall debt is to reduce your discretionary expenses. Living frugal now will benefit you after graduation. It is much easier to live like a student when you are a student than to live like a student after you have earned an MBA.

Your educational costs may be different from the budget we use for financial aid purposes. Many Johnson students meet their educational costs by borrowing through various student loan programs. Student loan debt represents a serious financial commitment with long-range repercussions. Please remember that you cannot use education loans (even private education loans) to cover costs above our published budget. You may have to plan carefully to ensure that you can meet all your MBA tuition expenses during the year. Prudent borrowing strategies can help you have more disposable income in the future, and allow you the freedom after graduation to achieve your personal financial goals of buying a home, new car, etc.

To make sure that you are ready for business school, we suggest that you do the following:

Tips for How to Finance an MBA

  1. Make adjustments to your lifestyle now.
  2. Start to save from each paycheck. Open a new school expense savings account and have money directly deposited from your paycheck.
  3. Begin to reduce your discretionary expenses. Dine out fewer times during the week, bring your lunch to work, limit impulse purchases, reduce data plans.
  4. Develop a personal budget. You may find it helpful to use software such as MINT, YNAB, ACORNS or other such tools.
  5. Begin to search for outside scholarships. Use the internet, local libraries, check with your employer or any civic or fraternal organizations you participate in to see if they offer scholarship assistance. You can use a national search engine to find scholarship opportunities as well as use the list of potential outside scholarships noted on our scholarships and grants page.
  6. Find one or more roommates to share expenses.
  7. Request and review your credit report. Approval for Federal Grad Plus and Private loans are based on a review of your credit history. It is important to have a good credit record. Start by ordering a Free Annual Credit Report. You can also contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax; 800 997 2493 or web: Experian; 888 397 3742 or web: Trans Union; 800 888 4213 or web:
  8. Some lending institutions will base their interest rates on a borrower’s credit score. You can check your credit score from Fair Isaac. Web:
  9. Eliminate any credit card balances you currently carry and only use your credit cards for emergencies.
  10. Do not buy or lease a new car. Cornell offers great public transportation.
  11. Do not use up all your savings to take a dream vacation before returning to school.
  12. Do not hesitate to ask family members for support. I am sure you do not want them to foot the bill for your entire education, but on gift giving occasions, they can get you a backpack, gift cards for groceries and bills or perhaps even buy you a new computer as a “going back to school gift.”
  13. Avoid impulse purchases and beware of buying for convenience.

Please note that the following expenses cannot be covered by federal or private educational loans:

  • Credit card debt
  • Security deposits
  • Cell phones/internet service
  • Sport and Fitness Club fees, and Club dues
  • Car payments
  • Travel expenses
  • Interview expenses
  • Personal gifts
  • Furniture
  • Summer living expenses
  • Moving expenses (above the travel allowance)
  • Expenses related to your job search
  • Fall, Winter and Spring break travel or trips (unless for course credit)
  • Lifestyle choices

MBA Financial Aid Calculators

Many websites offer calculators to assist you in making college affordable. Although there are several websites (including those set up by lenders) that provide useful calculators, we suggest you start with those listed below:

Financial Aid Contact Information

Please email or use our scheduling tool to set up an appointment to discuss your funding plan.

Financial Aid Office
117 Sage Hall
Johnson Graduate School of Management
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-6201

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Jamie Hayden

Director of Financial Aid