Finding financial aid

July 11, 2011

The assistant director guides MBA students through the process.

Most graduate business students look to their employers to help cover their tuition, an approach which has become challenging in recent years as many companies have reduced education benefits or added more strict conditions for tuition reimbursement. Still eager to advance their educations and careers but unable to meet all the upfront costs with their own savings or current incomes, a growing number of graduate business students are exploring their financial aid options.

At Loyola, a financial aid counselor dedicated to working with graduate students helps MBA and MSF candidates develop a plan that meets their needs and keeps them on track to complete their degrees. While a small number of merit and need-based grants are available in the Executive MBA and MBA Fellows programs for women, minority students, small-business owners, and students who are working in non-profit organizations, the best fit for most students continues to be federal, unsubsidized Stafford student loans.

“There’s a great misconception among most students that they make too much money to qualify for any sort of student loan,” says Danielle Ballantyne, assistant director of graduate admission and financial aid. “But there’s no income ceiling on an unsubsidized federal student loan.”

Unsubsidized federal loans offer a fixed rate of 6.8% to all students enrolled at least half-time: six credits each in the fall and spring, three credits in the summer. By comparison, the average credit card interest rate is nearly 15%. No credit check is needed for these loans; the only factors that prevent eligibility are lack of U.S. citizenship, a previous default on a federal loan, or a conviction on a drug-related charge.

The website has a great calculator for estimating monthly payments and determining how a loan might affect a student’s budget. The maximum loan amount per academic year is $20,500, but students can also apply for Federal Graduate PLUS loans to obtain additional funds (a credit check is a requirement for PLUS loans). Interest accrues while students are enrolled, but repayment may be deferred until the completion of the program so long as a student remains enrolled at least half time. The typical repayment period is 10 years following the completion of a program.

“I knew I would receive partial reimbursement from my employer, but only after I first paid and then passed each course,” says Pamela Jarrar, MBA Fellows ’13, a lead medical technologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “It was extremely overwhelming to look at the entire amount. The Loyola staff and friends suggested looking into a federal student loan. The online process for the FAFSA was quite simple and easy and all my information was sent directly to Loyola. I had my student loan within two weeks and was able to relax until school started.”

Ballantyne also counsels students on how to time their loans to coincide with their employers’ reimbursements and Loyola’s due dates.

“Our goal is to keep students from taking on too much debt up front,” she says.

In addition to the large number of students who receive unsubsidized loans, some students qualify for subsidized loans in which interest doesn’t accrue until after a student leaves school. While these loans are need-based, students shouldn’t rule them out automatically, as the eligibility is based on total cost of attendance, which includes tuition, registration fees, standard allowance for books and living expenses.

“The student loans help tremendously in the lightening of the burden of the MBA program,” says Cristina Mulcahy, MBA Fellows ’13, sales manager for McCormick & Co. “I felt that after carefully reviewing the costs for the next few years and lining up the assistance that I was receiving, it made the program very manageable for me.”

Wondering how to get started? Visit to learn more. The aid application itself takes only about 30 minutes to complete. And of course, don’t be afraid to ask Ballantyne for some one-on-one guidance.

“We don’t want to lose a single student because they think we won’t be able to find a plan that works for them,” says Ballantyne.

For more information on financial aid options at Loyola, contact Danielle Ballantyne at or call 410-617-5205. Or, view our Frequently Asked Questions regarding graduate financial aid.