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A masters in management is a full-time degree choice that, for some would-be students, quickly brings financial issues to the fore.

Without parental finance or an inheritance, where you were born, where you study or how much the admissions team admires your profile may have a big impact on whether you can afford your programme of choice.

Because initial earnings after these general pre-experience programmes may be much lower than for a masters in business administration, or even a specialised masters, banks may sometimes be less willing to provide commercial education loans.

Some governments provide grants or loans, while some schools offer generous financial support, cheap accommodation and even part-time employment on campus. Scholarships and corporate sponsorships are also available, but often according to particular conditions.

Top-end one-year masters in management programmes are not cheap. Participants in the London Business School’s (LBS) MSc programme are paying £22,500 ($35,700) in fees, and probably need another £16,000-£18,000 for living expenses.

Students applying to the MSc in international business at Grenoble Graduate School of Business face fees of €13,900 ($18,300), with perhaps another €1,000 a month of expenses. That is almost half the price of studying in London, but still substantial.

If funding is an issue, discussing it with preferred schools – perhaps before application and certainly once a place has been offered – is imperative.

Institutional scholarships and bursaries

Cristina Olabarria, admissions director for Esade’s masters in international management, says: “Our priority is to build a group with a good profile.” To attract the “right” participants, this Barcelona business school offers scholarships covering up to 100 per cent of fees, depending on its assessment of student need.

Eloïc Peyrache, associate dean of the two-year MSc in management (grande école) programme at HEC, on the outskirts of Paris, says although many foreign participants fund their own studies, the school will assess how much they are able to pay and can provide top-up bursaries, if necessary.

LBS’s masters in management course has £75,000 in yearly funds distributed via scholarships worth £3,750 and two bursaries of up to £7,500 each, says Lisa Mortini, the school’s recruitment and admissions officer. In addition, British female candidates can apply for two Celia Atkin Avent external scholarships, each worth £10,950.

State aid and subsidised loans

American students have no problem getting US government loans to study at LBS, says Ali Grigorian, the school’s financial aid officer. Asian students often borrow in their country of origin too. But the UK government offers only limited help to British post-graduate students though its Professional and Career Development Loans scheme. Successful applicants can borrow up to £10,000 from a bank at a special interest rate of 5.7 per cent – roughly half the rate of a UK commercial graduate loan.

Masters in management students in France can do much better, though. Those whose parents have a French tax domicile can apply for up to 100 per cent of fees to be paid by the state, based on a needs assessment. And all students, including those from overseas, can seek a French student accommodation grant, and at some schools can benefit from cheap accommodation and restaurants on campus.

Meanwhile, in Spain, the ministry of education’s student loan scheme, Préstamos Renta Universidad, lends up to €10,000 to Spanish residents or EU students studying in Spain.

Special scholarships, charities and trusts

Schools such as Grenoble Graduate School of Business will “do all we can to help students find funding”, says Judith Bouvard, its dean. That ranges from helping foreign students obtain loans to proposing them for Eiffel scholarships from France’s foreign ministry, designed to aid foreigners who study in France. These provide €1,181 a month, plus health insurance and some travel costs. Some French embassies, such as the one in Prague, also offer scholarships, Bouvard says.

Worldwide, there are countless scholarships available from countries, local authorities, charitable trusts and so on, often with conditions attached. The Grants Register, an annual publication, contains a global listing, and many schemes can now be found on the internet.

Corporate sponsorship

HEC can introduce students to a growing body of corporate sponsors keen to engage with students from particular regions. Air France, for example, offers support and free travel to six HEC participants from China, while Thales, the defence group, offers scholarships to Brazilian students. Grenoble, too, has links with corporate sponsors, and Santander, the bank, is to sponsor students from some countries on LBS courses.

Part-time work

With many undergraduate courses now ending as early as May, graduate students may be able to stockpile cash during a three-month summer job. Paid internships help, but at HEC most students also earn money on campus by participating in corporate survey work via its Junior Consulting Club. A similar option is available at Grenoble.

Commercial loans

These can be difficult to obtain and expensive in the UK, says Grigorian of LBS, but HEC and GGSB will help with applications and say the salaries of their graduates reassure lenders. In France, bank loans are relatively easy to obtain, says Bouvard, because “the return on the investment in taking a course – as the post-graduation salary figures show – is very attractive”. HEC even has its own “Word of Honour” loan scheme as a last resort.

Share the search burden

For applicants already burdened with student loans to be repaid, finding further investment for a masters in management can be daunting. But the consensus among admissions staff at many European schools seems to be that if a school wants a particular candidate, it will help scour the planet for cash to make that possible.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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