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Alumni Application Tips: how to finance your MBA

July 18, 2016

Tips from Denis Petrovic

I can tell you from experience that doing a carefully chosen MBA "pays"—and not only financially speaking. I think of my MBA first and foremost as a powerful career boost that has opened up entirely new perspectives for me.

If, after serious consideration, you find that studying for an MBA degree is the next logical step in your career development, you will, of course, also need to think about how best to finance your training. When I addressed this issue in the process of applying for my program, I was surprised at how many options there are—you just have to take advantage of them.

Ask about scholarship options
Many business schools support students in achieving their educational and career goals. So the first thing I would advise you to do is to contact the program manager of the MBA you are interested in and ask whether there are any scholarships available.

Various institutions also offer national and international funding support. Consulting the Austrian Database for Scholarships and Research Grants is definitely a good idea: You can select a country of origin as well as a target country and search for suitable scholarships.

Special financing programs for students

Erste Bank's "For Best Students" sponsoring scheme is worth mentioning, too. It offers all EU, EEA and EFTA citizens the possibility to have their tuition financed—at absolutely no risk and with no need for either a guarantor or collateral. In exchange for being sponsored, you will be required, for a set period of time, agreed upon in advance, to transfer part of your post-graduation earnings to "For Best Students". The European Commission also supports people who undergo training within the EU through a number of initiatives such as the new "Erasmus+" education program.

Utilize other financial advantages

Apart from scholarships, you should also take advantage of tax benefits: If you pay taxes in Austria, for instance, tuition and all other training-related expenses (e.g. overnight stays, study materials and supplies) are tax deductible. Depending on your income level, you are eligible for a tuition tax credit of up to 50%, regardless of whether you are employed or self-employed. Similar tax benefits may exist in your home country, so be sure to inquire about this potential option.

Last but not least, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that your organization, too, will benefit from supporting you in your MBA endeavor: It pays for an employer to defray the costs of studying for an MBA degree instead of awarding bonuses. Organizations that invest in developing the skills of their employees are not only eligible for a tax-free training allowance (Bildungsfreibetrag) or a training credit (Bildungsprämie) but also cut their non-wage labor costs—a win-win situation for both employers and employees.

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