Financial Aid

An anonymous reader posted a comment recently asking how IMD's full-time MBAs afford the program, which isn't cheap. Tuition and fees come to ~$75,000 (increasing to $80,000 for next year's class). Living expenses are estimated at ~$30,000 on the year (Switzerland isn't cheap either.) and then, of course, is the fact that most of us aren't earning any income in the meantime. After discussions with students, discussions with financial aid office personnel, and some research on the Web (http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/rankings/full_time_mba_profiles/imd.html and http://www.imd.ch/mba/finance/), I am finally prepared to respond.

First, we have ~10 students who are sponsored by their previous employers. This means their tuition, fees, and--in many cases--expenses are paid for. Many of them are still participating in the career services activities and it will be interesting to see if they return to their sponsoring companies.

For the rest of us the first oppotunity for financing is through scholarships. IMD offers many (although American males aren't eligible for most of them) plus there are myriad others available from third parties. Another 20+ of our class is on scholarship.

I applied for IMD's Global Future Leaders scholarship (the only one for which I was eligible), thinking that it would be a great fit. After all, my entire purpose in going to IMD was to learn to be a better global leader. When I failed to win it, I was at first crestfallen (Was I not the future global leader I thought I was?) but I gradually dealt with it. I was coming to IMD to learn and this validated that I still had plenty to learn in exactly my area of interest. Furthermore, it reinforced a lesson I thought I had learned before: that I can't just slap something together and expect it to reflect my capabilities, passion, or even message. I wrote my application essay on the flight back from my interview, exhausted and uninspired but up against an immediate deadline. It was lackluster and it received the appraisal it deserved.

It wouldn't be the last time I had to cope with performance disappointment at IMD but I am learning (slowly but surely) that it is OK to fail; some of the best learning comes from failure. IMD allows us to fail (and, in fact, ensures that it will happen) in a relatively consequence-free environment. This way we are not only more prepared to succeed in the "real" world, we are also more prepared to turn our future failures into constructive learning.

With sponsorship and scholarships out of the way, the final two methods of financing are through debt and savings. Due to the very high average work experience (7 years) and highish average salary of entrants ($75,000), many students have adequate savings to self finance. Due to the tax advantages of taking out student loans, however, some of us choose to take out debt anyway; I did.

Average salaries upon graduation are in excess of $130,000 (plus signing bonus) so I would strongly discourage anyone from letting price be a barrier to application. Even considering foregone salary, it doesn't take long for the IMD MBA to pay for itself in absolute monetary terms. However, I would also discourage anyone from applying just to increase his/her earning potential. The real value of the IMD MBA is enhanced self awareness, teamwork, leadership, performance under pressure, and cultural understanding. While these happen to be highly valued in the market place, they can have a tremendous impact in your nonprofessional life as well. So don't come to IMD to earn more money; come to improve yourself and augment your ability to make the world a better place. That is more than worth the price!

Olga, I hope this answered your question. Please let me know if you have any more questions and thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

You have provided me with a great analysis! Thanks for that!
By the way, as you were writing about running, I wanted to tell you that "the nicest 10 miles of the world" (also called the Grand Prix) will be in Bern on May the 10th, very close from were you are now, an average of 22,000 runners from all over Europe... so there you have a great excuse to join and a great motivation to keep training :)
I enjoy reading your blog, thank you for writing.
Take care,

Bryan Guido Hassin said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Olga! That weekend I will actually be in Paris participating in the MBA Tournament but it is good to know that "the nicest 10 miles of the world" is so close! I will have to make a pilgrimage.