So you’ve decided to go back for a Masters in Finance, or MSF degree – smart choice. Graduate degree holders typically experience lower unemployment, greater job satisfaction and higher compensation.
This is especially true for the MSF-ranked by Monster as the second highest paying Master’s degree, with median pay of $120,000 per year.1 So why doesn’t everyone pursue one? Well, earning a Master’s degree isn’t cheap.
This doesn’t mean that you should go searching for the least expensive program. With so many institutions offering graduate programs today, a degree from one school can be much different from another. While a legitimate consideration, the decision shouldn’t center on price. Despite a higher tuition, the return on investment should be significantly higher from the more prestigious programs. A solid brand is a valuable networking asset for life.
Consider the overall value of a degree from that institution. Research the career services department and see the placement record for graduates. Also, check the school’s faculty’s employment background and see what professional associations they belong to.
In short, don’t be deterred by the initial sticker shock. That said, you still have to pay for the program. Here are some ways to cover it or make it cheaper.
Go for an Online MSF Degree
Consider earning an online MSF degree. While the actual tuition savings may not be readily apparent, consider the savings once other expenses are removed from the equation.
Without the living expenses such as housing, meal plans, transportation, books, etc. you can save thousands per year. And with the online flexibility, you can remain working and avoid the opportunity cost of returning to school.
Completing the degree on an accelerated schedule can get you recouping that investment even faster.
Scholarships and Grants for MSF Degree
These monetary awards are given to deserving students and do not need to be repaid. They are bestowed for a variety of reasons-often a combination of merit (scholarships) and need (grants).
Outstanding academic accomplishments, humanitarian projects or winning an essay contest are just a few examples of scholarship criteria. They can also be awarded based on gender, ethnicity, geographic location or heritage. Many people don’t realize just how many scholarships are out there. PrepScholar does a nice job of listing many graduate school scholarships.2
Grants are based on a number of individual financial factors including income, personal savings and credit scores. Many people would probably qualify for need-based grants even when they believe they ‘make too much’. It’s worth pursuing this avenue since millions of dollars in grants go unclaimed every year! Visit Grants.gov where you can fill out a single application for many grants.3
Also, be sure and complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. In addition to receiving federal student loans, the application qualifies you for federal scholarships and grants.
There are a number of business and financial scholarships available for graduate degrees. Women should consider the Jane Klausman Women in Business Scholarship. This award, given by Zonta International, an organization promoting women in finance, offers up to 44 scholarships totaling $116,000 in funds annually.4
If you are a veteran, the educational opportunities are especially generous. The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill can pay your full resident tuition at a public school or up to $22,805.34 per academic year for a private school (these amounts will depend on your entitlement percentage).5 Adding in their ‘Yellow Ribbon’ program can actually double the financial aid available through dollar-for-dollar matching of scholarship funds.6 This is a powerful asset for veterans looking to earn a Master’s degree after service.
If you’re a veteran pursuing a career in finance, check out ‘Military MBA’, which awards $20,000 in scholarships annually for veterans.7 While the institution must be a ‘member school’, their list is extensive and includes prestigious business schools such as Washington University’s Olin School of Business, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. You may even qualify for free GMAT test prep material.8
If you are looking for leadership positions in finance, a military background coupled with a MSF or MBA is a powerful combination. At Financial Career Options, we thank you for your service.
Student Loans for MSF Degrees
Any remaining shortfall after grants and cash flowing may have to be met with a student loan. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Roughly 3 out of 4 grad students will cover some of their costs with a student loan.
While taking out a loan is never pleasant, remember that the median salary for an MSF degree holder is approximately $120,000.
While there are many federal loans available, the most are Grad Plus, Stafford and Perkins loans. There are also many private loans available.
Today, obtaining credit may be relatively easy and student loans are not terribly difficult to obtain. And if you get a loan with an above average interest rate, you may be able to refinance and reduce your monthly payments through fintech companies such as Sofi.
Work for the Right Company
With the cost of education consistently rising, many employers are stepping up to help employees with the burden of student loan repayment.
In fact, 60% of company’s offer some type of tuition reimbursement according to EdAssist’s Annual Review of Employer Tuition Assistance Programs.9
Companies like Gradifi have capitalized on this movement and are trying to make student loan repayment as common a benefit as healthcare. They boast customers ranging from fitness equipment maker Peloton to community bank First Republic and accounting powerhouse PwC.10
In the area of finance, most companies offer tuition reimbursement. Noteworthy reimbursers include Bank of America, Wells Fargo and insurance giant Cigna. Others offer unlimited tuition reimbursement including Acuity, Ernst and management consulting giant Boston Consulting Group.11
In addition to financial companies, be aware that technology companies may also be willing to offer tuition reimbursement for financial candidates as they are actively recruit such talent to scale their operations most effectively.
Employers also benefit from offering tuition reimbursement. Cigna reports that every dollar it contributes towards tuition reimbursement for employees, they reportedly got back a dollar and also saved an additional $1.29 through lower recruiting costs and reduced employee turnover.12
If you’re already working and considering an MSF degree, now is a perfect chance to speak to your human resource department about tuition coverage opportunities that can advance your career.