10 Schools With MBA Loan Forgiveness — Plus Other Relief Options
Whether you’ve already graduated with significant debt or are eyeing school sticker prices, the idea of MBA loan forgiveness likely sounds appealing.
Nearly half of MBA students at prestigious universities borrow at least $100,000 to finance their postgraduate education, according to a Bloomberg Business Week survey of 10,000 students from the Class of 2018. The average Harvard MBA graduate, for example, leaves school with about $90,000 in student loans.
Fortunately, there are many MBA loan forgiveness programs, right on campus.
Under most school-offered repayment assistance options, you commit to a period of public service at a qualified agency, nonprofit or government job. You’d be trading a potentially high salary in the private sector for getting MBA loan forgiveness in the often lower-paying public sector.
Here are 10 schools with such robust MBA loan forgiveness programs. (And if yours isn’t on the list, scroll to the end of this post to see other ways to receive relief.)
|School||Amount of MBA loan forgiveness per year|
|1. Columbia University||$2,000 to $10,000|
|2. Duke University||$15,000|
|3. Harvard University||$5,000 to $20,000|
|4. New York University||$1,194 to $15,000|
|5. Northwestern University||Up to $15,000|
|6. Stanford University||Up to the full amount of your loan payments|
|7. University of California, Berkeley||Up to the full amount of your loan payments|
|8. University of Michigan||$1,530 to $8,000 (numbers for 2020)|
|9. University of Pennsylvania||Up to $20,000|
|10. Yale University||Up to 10% of your loan principal|
1. Columbia University
Through the Columbia Business School Loan Assistance Program, MBA grads from this Ivy League school who work in the nonprofit or public sector or with a social venture may be eligible for loan assistance.
Graduates can apply for the assistance program within the first five years after graduation. Candidates must work full time (classified as 35 hours or more per week) at a nonprofit or government agency or other social-purpose employer as described in Columbia’s eligibility requirements.
|Student loan debt||Annual MBA loan forgiveness|
|Less than $30,000||$2,000|
|$30,000 to $40,000||$3,000|
|$40,001 to $50,000||$4,000|
|$50,001 to $60,000||$5,000|
|$60,001 to $70,000||$6,000|
|$70,001 to $80,000||$7,000|
|$80,001 to $90,000||$8,000|
|$90,001 to $100,000||$9,000>|
|*When former students report more than $100,000 in education debt, they could be eligible to receive a higher amount of MBA loan forgiveness. The maximum annual assistance is $30,000.|
2. Duke University
The Rex and Ellen Adams Loan Assistance Program offers student loan forgiveness awards to graduates of the daytime MBA program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business if they serve public agencies or nonprofit organizations. Candidates must work full time for a qualifying employer.
The school has awarded $2.1 million in MBA loan forgiveness to 102 alumni, at last count.
To be eligible, candidates must apply for the program within four years of graduation. You can receive up to $15,000 in loan assistance each year and remain eligible for the program, as long as you are employed at the qualifying agency within eight years of your graduation.
Recent application periods for Duke MBA loan forgiveness were from April 15 through May 15.
3. Harvard University
If you went to Harvard or are set to attend the school, then you’re in luck. The Ivy League titan has multiple programs to help secure MBA loan forgiveness and relief.
HBS Social Enterprise Loan Repayment Assistance Program
The program provides aid to MBA graduates employed in managerial positions in the nonprofit or public sectors, as well as (starting in 2017) those working in select for-profit enterprise positions. MBA student loan borrowers can apply for this program within 10 years of graduation, although preference is given to those who apply within the first three years after graduating.
Awards are based on a number of factors, including the applicant’s earnings, qualifications, need-based debt and job fit. Candidates with salaries of $100,000 or less are eligible for up to $10,000 each year. If your salary is higher than that, you may still be eligible for partial assistance.
Rock Center Loan Reduction program
If you’re a Harvard graduate working in for-profit entrepreneurial endeavors, then you, too, have a shot at repayment assistance. This program provides one-time, needs-based awards ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 to current graduating MBA students pursuing entrepreneurship.
Candidates looking to reduce their MBA student loans through this program must demonstrate significant financial need and serve as a founder or senior executive of their entrepreneurial venture.
HBS Loan Reduction for Private Sector Employees
Graduates working in the private sector with an emphasis on social enterprise aren’t totally left out either. This program offers a one-time loan reduction of $5,000 to $15,000 at the time of graduation to qualified students working in the private sector. To be eligible, you must earn a total compensation at or below $95,000.
4. New York University
Did you get your MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business and now work in a leadership position at a place with a social mission? If so, you may be eligible for NYU’s Loan Assistance Program. It’s designed to encourage graduates to use their skills to benefit an organization that might typically pay a lower salary.
Stern MBA graduates are eligible for this loan assistance within 10 years of the date of their graduation. In recent years, the application deadline has been in mid December.
Candidates must be employed full time at a nonprofit, in public service or with another organization that carries out a social mission.
Graduates with gross annual compensation of up to $100,000 are eligible for assistance and can receive a maximum award of $15,000 per year. The amount you receive is based on how much you borrowed for your education, as well as on your income level.
5. Northwestern University
Graduates of the MBA program at Northwestern who pursue a career in the nonprofit world or in public service may be eligible for The Collins Family Loan Assistance Program.
Applicants must make an adjusted annual income of $115,000 or less to qualify for aid, and they can receive a maximum of $15,000 annually.
6. Stanford University
The Stanford Graduate School of Business offers loan assistance for MBA grads who work in the nonprofit or public sectors, including local and national government jobs, through the Stanford MBA Nonprofit/Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Candidates must work at least part time (20 hours) with the intention of remaining at the organization for a minimum of six months.
If your adjusted income is $95,000 or less, you can receive the full amount of your annual loan payments. If your income exceeds that threshold, you can receive partial loan forgiveness.
7. University of California, Berkeley
The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, offers the Haas Loan Repayment Assistance Program for business grads employed in the nonprofit or public sector. To qualify for this MBA loan forgiveness program, candidates must work more than half-time at a government agency or nonprofit.
The amount of loan assistance you receive is based on your gross income. You can receive full loan repayment assistance if your modified gross income is up to $95,000, but if you make more, you are still eligible for partial loan assistance.
Annual application deadlines for Cal MBA loan forgiveness are July 15 for loan payments made from January through June, and Jan. 15 for loan payments made from July through December.
8. University of Michigan
MBA grads from the University of Michigan who work in the public sector or pursue nonprofit employment may be eligible for the Ross Loan Repayment Assistance Program.
Under this program, full-time workers for an eligible employer can receive funding to help repay their student loans. Award amounts vary, with the average payment for 2020 reported at $4,578. Awards ranged between $1,530 and $8,000 per graduate.
The annual application period for Michigan MBA loan forgiveness is generally Sept. 1 through Nov. 1.
9. University of Pennsylvania
The John M. Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund is designed to encourage Wharton MBA grads to pursue meaningful careers in public service and nonprofit sectors.
This option is open to Wharton alumni who graduated within the last five years. Eligible candidates could receive up to $20,000 per year to help reduce their MBA student loan balance. Criteria include career goals, salary and social impact activity.
Since 2005, the fund has doled out $2 million in MBA loan forgiveness to about 100 alumni. Recent application periods for Wharton MBA loan forgiveness have run from Sept. 15 through Dec. 1.
10. Yale University
Yale MBA grads working in the public or nonprofit sectors may be eligible for loan repayment assistance through the Yale School of Management Loan Forgiveness Program.
Graduates of the MBA, MAM and MMS programs are eligible for repayment assistance if they work full time at a qualified nonprofit or government organization.
The amount you get depends on your annual income:
- If you earn up to $85,000, you could receive repayment assistance for 10% of your eligible loan principal
- If your income is between $85,000 and $102,000, you could qualify for prorated support
- If you make more than $102,000, you aren’t eligible
Through 2018, Yale had awarded more than $9 million in MBA loan forgiveness to 400+ alumni since the fund was founded.
The application periods for Yale MBA loan forgiveness are generally May 1 through May 31 and Nov. 1 through Nov. 30.
Other ways to receive MBA loan forgiveness
As you can see by now, going to a school that offers MBA loan forgiveness can help end your student debt, especially if you’re willing to commit the early part of your career to the nonprofit or public sector.
First, check whether your school has an MBA loan forgiveness or repayment assistance program. And if your school isn’t on the list above, check with your campus financial aid office.
Then consider other options to get your MBA student loans forgiven, including:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness: If you have federal student loans and work for a qualified agency for 10 years, you may be eligible for forgiveness of your remaining student loan balance.
- Income-driven repayment: Under these plans, monthly payments for your federal loans are capped at a certain percentage of your income, and any remaining debt will be forgiven after 20 to 25 years. Keep in mind, however, that extending your repayment term generally results in paying more money on interest over the life of the loan.
- More loan repayment assistance programs: State governments, plus public and private employers are among other entities that will help you pay off education debt, typically in exchange for working in a certain professional field.
It’s also important to note that your forgiven debt under the PSLF is not considered taxable income, whereas any forgiven loans under an income-driven plan (or by some schools, above) is considered taxable income. Sure, your tax obligations might be less than what you would have owed, but it’s key to prepare for the possibility of a big tax bill.
If you have MBA student loans, there are ways to reduce your debt and get repayment assistance and/or MBA student loan forgiveness. Your school is a great place to start your search, but continue your quest for relief by also considering the full list of student loan forgiveness programs.