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How To Calculate Your Potential MBA Debt

Jeff Schmitt
·7 min read

How To Calculate Your Potential MBA Debt

The MBA is an expensive investment. On average, MBAs graduate with at least $100,000 in debt. If you’re going to take out loans to fund your MBA education, it’s important to plan out how much you’ll be expected to repay with interest.

To give you an idea, we used NerdWallet’s handy MBA student debt calculator and estimated how much you’ll owe at a few top B-schools. We calculated the total amount you’d repay using the average MBA student debt at B-Schools and assumed a standard 10-year plan at 6% interest rates.


Stanford GSB, which ranked number one in our annual MBA rankings, has an average MBA student debt of $41,000, according to data from the Department of Education’s College Scorecard.

Taking a loan of $41,000 under the standard 10-year plan and at 6% interest per year, you’d repay a total of $54,621.6 with a monthly payment of $455.18.

You can expect the same total repayment cost at Wharton and Tuck, where average MBA debt is also $41,000.


The average MBA student debt at Columbia University is $69,500.

If you took out a loan amount of $69,000 with an annual interest rate of 6% at 10 years, you’d repay a total of $91,924.8. Your monthly payment would be $766.04.


Kellogg MBA grads have some of the highest average student debt at $106,803.

Taking out a loan amount of $106,000 with a 10-year plan and annual interest rate of 6% would cost you in total $141,218.4. Expect monthly payments of $1,176.82

Of course, these are all estimates and are based on a variety of assumptions, including how much you’re borrowing to how many years and at what interest you’d be paying. Additionally, money from fellowships, employee-sponsorships, and scholarships often don’t require you to repay any money.

Want to calculate how much you’ll repay for loans customizing a range of variables? Use the calculator here.

Sources: NerdWallet, P&Q, US Department of Education

A 3-Step Approach to GMAT Prep

The GMAT is an important component of the MBA application.

How important it is, depends on how strong your score stands amongst other aspects of your application.

“If your GMAT is more than thirty points below your target school’s average GMAT, it could place you at a disadvantage and force the rest of your application to work overtime,” Linda Abraham, of Accepted, writes.

Ideally, you’ll want to score within the range of the averages at the school you’re applying for.

But that’s easier said than done. Chris Kane, the Head of Test Prep at Menlo Coaching, recently shared a few tips on MBA Crystal Ball for effective GMAT prep.


Kane recommends giving yourself roughly 10 weeks in order to optimally study for the exam. That means if you need to take time off to minimize distraction, you should.

“The GMAT is a highly sophisticated test that requires mastery of content and subtle pattern recognition,” Kane writes. “Your GMAT studying is so much more effective and efficient when you are living and breathing the exam rather than struggling to stay awake while doing problems after a long day of work.”

To optimize your preparation, dedicate roughly 12 hours a week over a 10-week period towards studying. Since most people don’t have the luxury to take 10-weeks off, Kane recommends the following regimen:

  • 2-3 hours on GMAT preparation during three of your workdays

  • A big 4-hour study session on one of your weekend days

  • A shorter 2-hour session on the other


When it comes to studying, you can apply Kane’s three step approach in order to improve over time: Refresh, Learn and Apply, and Practice.

Refreshing is all about understanding what areas you’re strong in and what areas need improvement.

“It is important to address any content weaknesses before you can focus on improving the baseline abilities described above in the context of the GMAT,” Kane writes. “You need well-made GMAT-specific drills that focus on exactly the skills required for the exam.”

Next, you’ll want to learn and apply. It’s best, Kane says, to utilize a well-organized curriculum to better understand and apply GMAT concepts to practice questions.

“To prepare effectively for this test, you want to avoid learning GMAT content in a vacuum, and instead focus on applying the content to solve hard problems,” Kane writes. “Most of the difficulty lies in understanding the question to know what math you need to use.”

Practice, the final and perhaps most important step, has little to do with understanding math concepts. Rather, it’s about understanding how you perform under time and pressure.

“This final step of GMAT studying involves practicing how to take the exam, namely by improving your pace and test-taking skills,” Kane writes. “Pacing and test-taking are vital to achieving a high GMAT score, and this means that after you have covered content, you must do lots of timed practice sets with official practice questions and then thoroughly review your performance.”

Sources: MBA Crystal Ball, Accepted

Harvard Business School From the Air

3 Qualities Sought By Harvard Business School

Getting into Harvard Business School isn’t easy.

And most applicants, who are lucky enough to get in, choose to attend. With a roughly 12% acceptance rate, however, you’ll need more than pure luck to get into HBS.

Stacy Blackman Consulting (SBC) recently offered a few insights into the three characteristics that the admissions committee at HBS looks for in MBA applicants.


Leadership is a one of the key components of the admissions framework at HBS.

According to SBC, there are a variety of forms leadership can take. The main forms are called “Capital L” and “Small L.”

Capital L is mostly associated by job titles such as managers, presidents, and captains. Small L, on the other hand, pertains to people who embody leadership traits even though they don’t have the official title.

“Irrespective of their actual job titles, these professionals are strategic, innovative, and proactive,” Blackman writes. “The small L leaders step up when needed and thrive when times are hard. Plus, they demonstrate leadership traits over time, and can show that track record to HBS throughout their application.”


The second characteristic that HBS looks for is analytical aptitude and appetite.

“Academic, analytical and quantitative prowess is crucial, as HBS adcoms will look at the applicant’s GPA and test score. HBS adcoms will also comb through transcripts and consider the skills the applicant exercised and built in his or her work experiences,” Andrea, a consultant at SBC and former Associate Director of MBA Admissions Marketing at Harvard Business School, says.

Where you went for undergrad and what you studied will be considered, but that doesn’t mean you have to have a prestigious college or quantitative-focused degree to be accepted into HBS.

“Strong work experience can compensate for lack of quant classes in college,” Andrea notes. “In addition to the stated criteria, intellectual curiosity and horsepower are buried in there,” Andrea says. “Research projects, thesis projects, reading and interests you develop on your own all qualify under horsepower. One’s quest to satiate his/her intellectual curiosity needs to shine through for the HBS application. This comes across in extracurriculars, awards, on the resume, and certainly in the HBS essay.”


Community citizenship is about who you are as a person and what personal qualities you embody outside of your transcripts and exam scores.

“Personal qualities encompass ethics, morals, values, judgment, and ego,” Andrea writes.

According to Andrea, citizenship is all about the tone and manner that you give off in your application and essay.

“Talking in a braggy manner and discussing an over-the-top lifestyle would take the applicant out of the running. Instead, I recommend trying to present an unexpected application that shows real depth around how he makes a positive impact in the communities in which he’s spent time,” Andrea adds.

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q, P&Q

The post How To Calculate Your Potential MBA Debt appeared first on Poets&Quants.