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What’s the sticker price of an MBA? Even for candidates certain that their next step is business school, the financial commitment is significant. For candidates who are still deciding, calculating the variables — tuition, time, meeting responsibilities to family, work and community — can be overwhelming. Both types of high performers may be surprised how affordable a Rice MBA actually is.

I’d like to share a range of perspectives on how accessible our programs can be for students who meet the Rice Business criteria for acceptance. As the director of financial services for Rice Business, I’m in charge of showing candidates the many options that can put this superlative education within reach. There are scholarships, financial aid, loans both within the school and outside.

The key concept to know is how individualized tuition can be. That’s why it’s essential if you aspire to a Rice Business MBA to contact me. Trying to figure out tuition options without help, frankly, is daunting. I’m familiar with the whole field of possibilities for lowering business school costs — and there are many. And I am available one-on-one to find every break that’s there for you.

The first question many students have is about loans. There are two types available: federal and private. Federal loans are often times easier to qualify for; but private loans can offer better interest rates. Neither are bad options, but depending on circumstance, one might be best for you overall.

Rice Business also grants an impressive roster of merit-based scholarships, largely to full-time MBA students: almost $7.5 million worth in 2019 in a full-time class of about 120 students. We’re  especially proud of our financial support for the full-time MBA program, whose students pause employment for two years: more than 87% of them will receive some form of scholarship. 

Outside the business school, there are still more scholarships available. I can help you find these. This is why I tell candidates to talk to me as early as possible when considering their Rice MBA, in order to take maximum advantage of the options out there. Business school can seem very expensive — but I’ll show you what you’ll actually pay, and especially if you’re a full-time MBA, it’s usually less than the sticker price.

Knowing this can be a decisive factor. For Barkat Syed, in the full-time MBA class of 2020, scholarship support not only helped him cover tuition, it let him to devote full concentration to his studies once he got there. Thanks to a Rice  Business scholarship, Syed said, “My family can rest easy knowing that I can take care of myself without my having to put anything on them.”

While considering the actual dollar amount of your education, you’ll also want to know the long-term return on this investment. In an entertaining video, Rice Business Professor James Weston does the math. Walking through the same type of equation you would use making any other major business decision, Weston shows that the ROI of a two-year business education — even without a tuition break — gives a lifetime salary ROI of 20 percent.

Another important part of your business school ROI will be your preparation for the disruptions and unforeseen demands of 21st century business. That’s part of the equation for Rosalee Maffitt, a second-year student in the professional program. While this program does not have the same level of scholarship support as the full-time program, Maffitt chose it because she could earn her salary uninterrupted while positioning herself to advance.  

“Having a career is important to me, and I knew I had specific knowledge gaps in business,” she said. “For example, I'd been in enough situations where my boss asks me to look at a company's financials to deliver a brief, where more formal training would be helpful.” A former professor suggested Rice Business, because she wouldn’t have to leave the workforce to advance through higher level skills and a new network. In fact, Maffitt said, her Rice Business professional cohort has been one of the program’s most distinctive benefits, thanks to her classmates’ life and work experience. 

“The world is changing more quickly than ever,” Maffitt said. “What made me successful 10 years ago will not necessarily make me successful 10 years from now. I firmly believe having robust and strong professional skill-sets are necessary to adapting to change and having more professional choices.”

For first-generation Americans, women and underrepresented minorities, the selection of tuition options is excellent, said Lina Bell, Rice Business director of diversity and inclusion. “Rice Business is not out of people’s reach financially. If you are a competitive applicant who meets the Rice Business criteria, it is likely that it will be financially possible for you,” she said. “We trade on potential. So if you have the leadership, the academic chops and leadership potential — there is funding available.”

Some of this funding, Bell said, comes in partnership with national groups promoting diverse student bodies: Among these are the National Black MBA Association, Prospanica, The Forte Foundation, and The Consortium.

“It’s just a whole world of options out there,” Bell said. “Once you take advantage of these opportunities, your Rice MBA can change the trajectory of your career. It can be exponential in terms of your professional success. It can change who you are in the world.”