Some schools will subsidize you more.
We’re talking about the loan assistance programs that most top business schools offer. How it works is this: If you decide to take a job working for a non-profit or the government after you graduate, then you’re unlikely to be raking in the big bucks in post-MBA salary compared to your consulting and finance friends. Yet all the schools want to encourage people to go into these more altruistic careers, and most of them have implemented some form of loan forgiveness, where grads working in these fields can receive help paying back their student loans.
Sounds great, right? Yeah, it is – though you should know that some schools are more liberal with these programs than others. If you’re planning on doing some sort of non-profit or other public-sector career post-bschool, then you may want to look into this angle as you work on short-listing your schools.
Take Yale, for example. They are quite permissive in what they consider to be a “charity”; it doesn’t even have to be a formal 501(c)(3) (that’s the designation given by the IRS when an organization gets approved for tax-exempt status). They will evaluate what the organization does and what your role is and decide if it qualifies. You can apply for assistance anytime within your first ten years of graduation. In addition, this program is integrated into the Yale student culture; every Spring there’s a talent show which serves as a fundraiser, and they have very high student participation rates. This means that funds are renewed every year and the Yale financial aid office has more resources available for their LFP.
By contrast, the comparable program at Duke is not really comparable. Duke is more restrictive in terms of what a qualified employer would be, allowing just formally registered tax-exempt charities and government agencies. Alumni must first sign up within three years of graduation, and benefits are capped at eight years of payments total (you need to get your participation re-approved every year through a renewal application process; this is true at all schools). The maximum offered by Duke is $8,000 per year. These program parameters are down from when it was founded in 2001; it used to be eligibility for $10,000 per year for up to 10 years.
These niche opportunities are not what most people consider when choosing where to apply, particularly since it is tough to mentally grasp the idea of actually graduating from bschool and having to make payments on a student loan, when you’re sitting here on this side of the equation facing down essays and GMAT tests. You have no idea what career you’ll end up pursuing when you go through the process. We’ve heard that up to 70% of Duke students change their goals from what they write about in their essays. This is common. Sitting here today, how can you know if you’ll go for some type of job like this later? Some people might – and for those, these considerations should be examined.
These hidden opportunities can be very important in certain circumstances. Drill down on the actual programs available at a particular school. Do some digging. While Duke is just as supportive, from a culture and community perspective, as the SOM is in terms of encouraging students to pursue social interest jobs, Duke clearly isn’t putting its money where its mouth is in the same way to support its grads in those sectors.
Maybe this will spur some questions for you to ask as you continue your school research projects, Brave Supplicant.