MBA Cost in USA Keeps Rising. Top Tips to Study Debt Free

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The MBA cost in USA keeps rising, but you can still earn your degree at low cost with these top tips to study debt-free.


It’s true — education in America is a costly endeavor. As an international student or an American looking to study at an institution in the U.S., this article is designed to help you estimate the MBA cost in USA and also provide top tips to go about earning your degree debt-free.


As the cost of an MBA is outpacing the rate of inflation, it’s becoming more and more expensive to earn the degree. On average, the cost of a private MBA program with tuition and books for two years can rack up a bill of $100,000-$200,000.


Before we jump into how to earn the degree debt-free, let’s look at all the various expenses to consider when calculating the estimated costs of an MBA.


The Cost of an MBA:

1. Living Expenses


If you choose a traditional program, the school’s location will dictate the living costs. Depending on where you choose to attend university and in turn, live, the costs greatly vary, but you can expect to spend anywhere from $300-$1,500 in a month, depending how you budget. In 2017, for example, the top 10 most expensive states to live in were:


  1. Hawaii
  2. New York
  3. California
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Alaska
  6. Connecticut
  7. Maryland
  8. Vermont
  9. Rhode Island
  10. New Jersey


If you’re trying to save money, opt to attend school in smaller, more rural locations as opposed to big, urban cities. Or, try your hand at online schools, where you can attend from anywhere, and therefore, save money automatically by living in a cheaper place. Regardless if you choose to live on-campus or off-campus, living with roommates will save you money, for obvious reasons.


2. Public vs. Private School Fees


Private schools are generally more costly than their public counterparts. However, if you choose to go to an out-of-state school, that can at times end up being more expensive than a private school within your state. Public schools get a lot of funding from the state and federal government, which means that the cost of them is subsidized, and therefore, lower for its students. Before deciding where you want to go based on the institution being private or public, be sure to research the fees so that you don’t end up ruling out any possible choices.


3. Post MBA Salary


As you likely realize, earning your MBA is an investment, which means you’ll foot a cost upfront, but down the line, you should receive a positive return on investment (ROI) by earning a higher salary because of the degree. According to data, your post MBA salary is decided by multiple factors, including the school you went to, but also where you work and years of experience. Here’s a look at some of the average highest post MBA salaries, by school:


  1. Stanford Graduate School of Business: $257,054
  2. Columbia Business School: $221,036
  3. Harvard Business School: $220,188
  4. Wharton: $209,501
  5. University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business: $200,415


However, this leads one to question the actual costs that went into each school to earn such a high salary, as the benefits all work on a cost-benefit analysis. Here’s a look at the top most expensive and least expensive MBA programs.


Most Expensive On-Campus MBA Programs:

  1. Harvard: $144,000
  2. Columbia: $143,088
  3. MIT Sloan: $142,000
  4. Wharton: $140,400
  5. Chicago Booth: $138,000


Most Affordable On-Campus MBA Programs:

  1. Arizona State University: $0
  2. University of Massachusetts Amherst Isenburg School of Management: $0
  3. Texas A&M International University A.R. Sanchez: $2,079
  4. Fitchburg State University Department of Business Administration: $5,310
  5. Albany State University College of Business: $5,670


For a complete list, click here.


Source: Unsplash


How about online and tuition-free?

If you feel that an online program will suit you better, based on the fact it is more flexible, accessible, and has lower barrier to entry, you can receive your MBA tuition-free at University of the People.


While there are many reasons why you should earn your degree in Business Administration with UoPeople, take a look at a few of the standout benefits:




The program is entirely tuition-free, which means you only pay for an application fee and course assessment fees.


Class Environment:


With small classes, the peer-to-peer model supports in-depth learning and networking with a diverse student body with people attending from over 200 countries and territories around the world.




The program is designed with employability in mind, created by professionals and top professors from global universities who advise the type of coursework necessary to ensure the right skills are learned for the marketplace.




With the option to study part-time or full-time, students can access their education from anywhere and at any time, which means that they can continue to raise a family and/or work while earning their MBA.


Low Barrier to Entry:


Unlike most traditional universities, UoPeople requires no standardized admission tests (like the GRE) or interviews to apply. You can simply apply with proof of an undergraduate degree, proof of English proficiency, and one reference from an employer or professor.


Source: Unsplash


Tips to Earn Your MBA Debt-Free

Once you know where you want to study and the type of program (full-time or part-time) you can commit to, try these top tips to lower your costs and potentially graduate debt-free.


Study Part-Time:


By choosing to study part-time, the degree may take a bit longer to complete, but you will be able to balance work while learning, which means you can take out either less or no loans as you can self-fund the costs with your paycheck.


Employer’s Assistance:


Many employers are willing to subsidize or fully fund their employees’ tuition and associated costs to earn their MBA. At times, this may mean making a larger commitment to stay within the company for a certain amount of time, but it will grant you access to learn more and become a valuable asset to the business.




It goes without saying that free money is always one of the best options to fund your studies. Whether you choose an online program or traditional program, scholarships are available based on program type, personal identity, academic achievements, and the like. You can apply for scholarships and grants to cover costs, like the Forte Foundation’s scholarships which are tailored specifically for women who want to earn their MBA.


The Benefits of an MBA

As with any major life decision, weighing the costs and benefits (or pros and cons) is a useful and informative practice. The obvious costs include living, tuition and materials, transportation, time, and forgoing the opportunity to work and earn money while studying, should you choose an on-campus, full-time program. But you can avoid these costs by attending a tuition-free, online university and enrolling in a part-time program, like what UoPeople offers.


Regardless of what MBA program you do decide to enroll in, the benefits of a higher salary will not go unnoticed. The data shows that in 2017, MBA graduates earned an average of $142,000, and in 2018, those salaries were increasing. In 2017 alone, the average increase in salaries for MBA graduates was $7,000, which is the highest in absolute terms for more than a decade. And, beyond the salary, MBA programs teach useful life skills like time management, problem-solving, and entrepreneurship. So even if you have to acquire some debt to get your MBA, you just might be able to pay it off fast with your new high earning potential.