Financing Your MBA: How to Ask Your Employer for Sponsorship
The desire to expand your skill set and move into a more significant and lucrative management role are both good reasons to pursue an MBA. Getting your employer to pay for it benefits both you and potentially the company you work for. However, asking your employer to cover those costs is no easy task. Here are some practical steps to convincing your employer to pay for your MBA.1
Evaluate the Company You Work For
How is your company doing financially? Are departments thriving? Are they growing, and in need of skilled managers to fill new positions? Are they handing out bonuses, or are expenses being cut?
You want to go into any discussion of your continuing education with an awareness of whether the company can afford to pay for your MBA, and if they are potentially willing to. Have they done so in the past for other employees, or has it been discussed as a future benefit? Knowing where your company stands and how they are doing will smooth the discussion process.
Formulate a Plan
Choose the school and program you wish to attend. Make sure that you are qualified and can either gain admission to the program or apply before having the discussion with your boss. An Acceptance letter not only lets him know you are serious, but informs him of what costs the company might be taking on.
Also be prepared to discuss the effect that your school attendance will have on your current position with the company. Will you be able to continue full time, or will you need to take a part time position temporarily? WIll you need to work in a less demanding position while you attend classes? Your boss will have questions you should be prepared to answer.
Propose a Schedule
Many students who seek an MBA while working full time and managing family and other obligations turn to online classes like those offered at Marylhurst University. The flexibility of online learning allows them to adjust their school work around their work schedule rather than the other way around.
However you choose to pursue your MBA, be ready to have a frank discussion with your employer about how your schooling will affect your schedule, and be prepared with your own proposal. Be sure your presentation includes how you can still meet your obligations to your company while you are focused on your education.
Outline the Benefits
What new skills will you bring to the company once your education is complete? Emphasize your current value to the company, while highlighting how the skills you learn in your MBA courses will help them better achieve their goals. Whether your company is poised for growth, is developing a new business model, or has goals for expanding their customer base and marketing reach, the skills you learn while earning your MBA can help them meet those objectives.
Also, research tax breaks your employer might earn both locally and federally. The IRS allows companies to deduct up to $5,250 a year in tuition reimbursement for each employee. Your state may also offer incentives. Be sure to inform your employer of these breaks, and include this as one of the benefits.2
Be willing to sign an employer education contract of some sort detailing how long you will stay with the company in exchange for your tuition reimbursement. Include this in your proposal of benefits to the company.
Make sure you really want to return to the company when you complete your education before making any proposals or promises. Ensure that the position they will offer you upon graduation meets the expectations you have for salary, benefits, and job satisfaction.
Asking your employer to pay for your education is no small task, and it may be difficult and even frightening at first. However, it will be worth it in the long run if you have a plan, propose a schedule, outline the benefits to both your and the company, and show them you will be loyal to them once your education is complete.