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Do Students Prefer The Most Affordable MBAs?

Student Loan Hero, a consulting company, made a very prospective-MBAs-relevant piece of research, which resulted in the following conclusion: graduates of Lehigh University College of Business and Economics (Pennsylvania) have not gathered any debt.

No Student Debt: Is It Even Possible?

Everyone knows that an MBA degree from one of the top b-schools can amount to a six-figure tuition fee – and that’s not counting rent and food. If you consider entering one of the institutions that take places in top-10 rankings, you are very likely to cough up no less than $200,000 for your standard two-year masters program. Of course, for lots of talented aspiring MBAs, such prices are unaffordable – there’s even no need to try and calculate the return on investment.

According to Poets and Quants, services like Student Loan Hero make rankings where MBA programs are placed according to their affordability. The research accounts for tuition fee, student debt and first-job salaries of the graduates. According to Student Loan Hero’s ranking, the most affordable school prize goes to Lehigh University’s College of Business and Economics. The rankings conclude that graduates accumulate absolutely no debt after graduation. This is actually impossible from all other 50 business schools on the list.

According to Student Loan Hero, the average debt accumulated by MBA graduates equals $53,000. What’s the deal with Lehigh College, then? According to Lehigh’s website, its one-year MBA program costs $64,750. Students also have to pay an additional $1,970 for insurance. However, there are many scholarships offered to the school’s students. Among them are: Dean’s Scholarship (full compensation), Director’s Scholarship (partial compensation), Asa Packer Social Entrepreneurship Award (full compensation and a stipend of $18,000), Lehigh Alumni Scholarship ($10,000) and several kinds of military scholarships. Aside from its one-year full-time MBA program, Lehigh offers three more: Flex MBA, MBA/Engineering (joint) and MBA/Educational Leadership (joint). These programs make students eligible for a variety of other scholarships, awards and stipends.

Students Would Prefer Less Prestigious Schools For Smaller Debt

Neither Poets&Quants nor U.S. News and World Report include Lehigh College in their rankings, apart from its part-time MBA program which has the 20th place according to U.S. News. Lehigh’s undergraduate program is in the 24th place in Poets&Quants’ undergraduate business school rankings from 2016. Clearly, schools with a low rating attract considerably smaller amounts of talented students and professors, entering a kind of an unending cycle, as having less talent puts them low in the rankings. The only way such schools can get any good students at all is by offering various scholarships, fellowships, stipends and awards. That also makes these institutions go up in the rankings. Anyway, research has shown that more than half of aspiring MBAs are considering a less prestigious school if that means they would get some kind of compensation.

Of course, most students still choose their dream schools based on prestige and place in rankings. However, even top schools can see that talented but penniless students are out of their pool; thus, they start giving out more scholarships. For instance, schools like Booth, Duke Fuqua, Tuck and Kellogg offer various merit-based fellowships. Even educational juggernauts like Harvard and Stanford started increasing their scholarship offers – however, their compensation is rather need-based than merit-based.

Student Loan Hero warns aspiring students to not lose their heads and think everything through. Even with a smaller amount of debt, applicants have to consider where they would get the money. To calculate the possible debt, one should think about their future first-job salary. Only if it allows them to pay their debts in a reasonable amount of time, should they make their decision.

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