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I have too much debt already, so I cannot afford graduate school. In the future, is it possible that my employer would pay for my MBA?

With your current student debt, it makes sense you want help tackling the $100K plus cost of an MBA degree. Your question is broader than just a business degree, because companies help employees finance all types of higher-education degrees. Since so many graduates aim at a career in business, we will focus on your MBA goal.

The current trend shows that employers are beginning to invest more in their workforce and move past the salary plateau of the past few years. Overall employee compensation in the professional sector is on the rise and earning your MBA while working can benefit both you and the company.

It would be a good idea either at interview or when you are working to find out if the company has any tuition-assistance options. Larger corporations with multiple management layers are more likely to have mechanisms in place to assist the professional development of those who meet the criteria. These criteria will vary depending on the company, some will approve course-by-course assistance, others a lump-sum reimbursement package for relevant degree plans.

The next question is will your MBA be a good investment for your company? Check to see if any middle or upper management hold advanced business degrees, if so it shows that the organization values academic training. Does the company have the revenue for investment in employee education? Bear in mind that the cost of a two-year MBA can exceed $100K, this is a lot for a smaller business to invest.

There are a lot of specialist MBAs available today so finding one to suit the needs of your company should not be too difficult. Any proposals you make should primarily address the benefit to the company, after all you are asking them to pay for it. Your pitch should emphasize your commitment to the company after graduation to justify their return on investment.

We can highlight our success with employees who received an MBA in media, explains management at an advertising agency. To succeed in direct response marketing in the digital age, employees must now learn all forms of media: broadcast, cable, radio, satellite and Internet. With the immediacy of these media, we want our new MBAs data mining and tracking the results to build a consumer model for our clients.

Some companies will allow you to attend college while working for them. There are also the options of online or a part-time MBA, often called the fully employed MBA, which have a low course-load requirement per term. Part-time courses offer our employees flexible schedules to maintain a balance of work and study, explains management at Built Systems. Supporting workers to attain advanced degrees is a powerful inducement to help recruit and retain employees.

You may need to sign a loyalty contract confirming that you will stay with the company for a given number of years after your graduation. Academic sponsorship comes with obligation, you need to be sure that you are dedicated to this company for several years ahead before you make the decision to seek financial assistance to further your professional qualifications.

You don’t need a Harvard MBA to know that the bedroom and the boardroom are just two sides of the same ballgame... Stephen Fry.

Written by Martin J. Young, former correspondent of Asia Times.