Jobless MBA students struggle to pay for schooling

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    By Rebecca Silva

    Despite the requirement not to work, BYU”s master of business administration student, Brian Baker, managed to keep his first year debt-free. However, next year may not be so easy.

    “I will likely be taking out student loans to finance my second year, which is fine,” said Baker, 26, an MBA student from Burbank, Calif. “You look at it as an investment with a return.”

    At $3,000 per semester, tuition for these students costs nearly twice as much as tuition for undergraduates. The MBA program, however, maintains its policy that enrolled students must abstain from working.

    “I think there are a fair amount of people that were frustrated by the fact that they weren”t allowed to work,” Baker said. “But I think the workload is enough that I don”t want to.”

    Most of these students received financial aid, said Laura Thompson, secretary at the MBA office. They took out loans, and most leave with outstanding debt, but they expect to pay it off.

    “It”s my understanding that most take out loans, which I did as well,” said Jeff Morgan, 29, an MBA student from Salt Lake City. “Loans, scholarship money, cheap housing in Provo – it can be done.”

    The program encourages students to obtain employer sponsorship. Many businesses will fund some or all of a student”s tuition. Still, the majority of students resort to student loans.

    While BYU”s MBA tuition is substantially higher than its undergraduate tuition, it is significantly lower than the MBA tuition of other universities.

    “BYU is very cheap compared to most MBA programs,” Morgan said. “The top programs are $30,000 a year. It”s a pretty good bang for your buck.”

    The class schedule is designed to help students keep their lives in balance, according to BYU”s MBA Web site. Classes meet from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, generally leaving weekends free.

    There are several breaks in the year-round schedule, and classes meet in both Provo and Salt Lake City, allowing students to choose the most convenient location.

    Even so, the courses demand time and energy.

    “It”s more work than I thought it would be,” Morgan said. “If people had work schedules, it”d just be too hard, so it”s good that they don”t work.”

    The students expressed appreciation for the ability to spend time with their families. Many students spend free time with their spouses and children – time that would otherwise be spent working.

    “I have two kids,” Baker said. ” I want to spend extra time with my family. To spend less time with them just to have a little bit more money just doesn”t make any sense.”

    Baker”s positive attitude about going into debt can be partially attributed to high future expectations.

    “The goal isn”t going to be to get out of here with the lowest amount of debt possible,” Baker said. “The goal is to get out of here with the best education and with your family as intact as possible.”

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