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Finding a top business school and then paying for it

By Dian Vujovich

Last month I wrote about the universities around the globe that graduated individuals who later became billionaires. While that’s all very nice, making a few million or ten’s or hundred’s of millions wouldn’t be so bad, either. That means seeing to it that your little darling gets to one of best business schools on the planet could be a very good bet, too.


This week,  Poets&Quants announced their ranking of the universities around the  world with the best executive MBA programs. (If you’re unfamiliar with the name it’s a social network site that sets out to help people interested in graduate programs by providing advice, counsel and the sharing of information. The address is: www.poetsandquants.com .)


Poets&Quants has the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School holding top honors. This, for the third year in a row. Behind it and in second place is the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business,It is followed by  Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. In fourth and fifth slot is Washington University’s Olin School EMBA program and Columbia Business School, respectively.


I checked out the Financial Times 2013 Global MBA Ranking and found their top five schools were Harvard, Stanford’s School of Business, Wharton, the London School of Business and then Columbia.


Whittling down which school is best for you, your daughter or son could be the easiest question to answer. After it comes affordability, i.e., the debt incurred to attend, and then the return on investment, i.e., pay.


According to Poets&Quants, heading off to one of the top-ranking MBA schools means racking up more than $100,000 in debt.  At Wharton, for instance, the average debt is estimated at $117,200.  An MBA from Columbia Business School is a few bucks cheaper–$114,800.


If it’s a student loan that has paid for this top-notch education—and not a gift from grandma or Uncle Louie—the world of pay back is a hefty and long-lasting one.


From a story titled, “MBA Debt Burden Rises Again: A Record $117,200 Average At Wharton” dated March 19, 2013 by John A. Byrne, comes this: “The full brunt of such debt isn’t obvious until the monthly payments become due. A Wharton MBA trying to pay down the average loan over ten years would face a monthly payment of nearly $1,350 and interest of nearly $45,000. The annual salary needed to carry that average student loan is at least $162,000, about 10% of monthly gross income. Over a 15-year payback period, the interest alone would come to more than $70,000.”


How all of that debt gets paid off isn’t the challenge it might appear to be. MBAs have been starting their new jobs  with six-figure salaries for a number of years now. Harvard MBAs who graduated last year, for example, averaged a starting pay of $142,501.

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