If you are looking to advance your career in healthcare administration, you should consider heading back to school. While you may be employed in the healthcare industry with a bachelor’s degree at the moment, those who hold a graduate level degree tend to earn more money and hold higher positions in the healthcare industry.

But although the field of healthcare is on pace to “grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026”, some people hesitate when it comes to going back to school. Why? The answer may be simple: education is expensive.

The good news is that those with a desire to work in healthcare administration can expect to make a decent salary. The BLS reports, “The median annual wage for medical and health services managers was $98,350 in May 2017.” However, it is common (and preferable) for medical managers to hold graduate degrees.

Simply put, going back to school to earn your MHA will be worth the investment. You will advance your career and make more money in the long run. But if you are still worried about how you will pay for an MHA, read on to learn several methods for covering your expenses.

The different ways to pay for an MHA

When planning for graduate school, you should begin by identifying your personal budget. Having a budget in mind will help you eliminate schools that are going to be too costly. For example, many students can’t afford out-of-state tuition. Other students find online MHA programs to be more affordable.

Costs can range quite a bit, whether you attend an MHA program in-state, out-of-state, or online. US News reports that “In-state students should expect to pay anywhere from about $6,500 to $36,000 for their entire MHA degree program, while out-of-state students should expect an overall degree cost that can range from about $26,000 to $75,000.”

Once you know your budget, you will need to dedicate some time to researching different ways to pay for an MHA. For instance, some universities offer unique scholarships for students based on certain criteria. The catch is that you can only receive those scholarships if you are attending their institution. In other words, it is important to research the schools you are interested in attending and to see which scholarships they offer.

You should also spend time looking into both federal borrowed money and private borrowed money. The criteria and interest rates will vary. As a graduate student, you should know that lenders will factor in your credit score as well as your academic standing when determining what types of loans and interest rates you may be qualified for.

Where to find MHA scholarships

The ideal way to pay for an MHA is to receive a scholarship (or multiple scholarships). However, students often do not know where to find scholarships. The first place to look for a scholarship is in the financial aid office of the school you are interested in attending. Individual universities offer scholarships to MHA students based on their own unique sets of criteria. If you meet their criteria, then you should definitely apply!

Another great place to research MHA grants and scholarships is the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA). This is an excellent resource for future MHA students and current students. In addition to offering financial resources to students, AUPHA lists scholarships that are specifically designed for students enrolled in MHA programs. For instance, AUPHA lists MHA scholarships such as the Corris Boyd Scholarship, Transamerica Retirements Solutions Leaders in Healthcare Scholarship, Gates Millennium Scholarship, Tylenol Scholarship, and others. These scholarships vary in what they require and in the amount that will be awarded.

When it comes to seeking MHA scholarships, it is very important to read all the fine print. Scholarships have strict application requirements and deadlines. Follow all of these instructions, and try to make your scholarship application stand out compared to the rest.

What to know about federal loans and FAFSA

To see if you qualify to borrow federal money from the US government, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application determines whether you will be awarded federal student aid, and how much you will be eligible to borrow. According to US News, “the U.S. Department of Education awards around $150 billion in financial aid annually to help students pay for their education at 6,000 colleges, universities and career schools.”

MHA students may also apply for what is called a Graduate PLUS Loan. The Grad PLUS Loan is a federal student loan for students attending graduate school. This type of federal student loan offers a fixed 7.6% interest rate (as of 2018-2019), as well as flexible loan limits. This loan is not based on financial need, but students will need to pass a credit check in order to qualify.

When to consider private loans for an MHA

Additionally, some students use private borrowed money through financial services to pay for their MHA program. Students might choose to take out private student loans because some banks offer lower interest rates, which may be cheaper in the end than a Grad PLUS Loan. However, private loans do not offer consumer protections or multiple repayment options.

Ask about employment reimbursement programs

Another option to fund your MHA is to see if your workplace offers an employee reimbursement program. If you are already employed in the healthcare industry, your employer may want to invest in you and your career by offering tuition reimbursement. By reimbursing you for these expenses, your employer is thinking long-term about the value you will bring to their healthcare services.

Note that not all companies offer tuition reimbursement, and that some companies only offer it with strict policies — such as requiring you to work for them for a certain number of years once you’ve received your degree.

Before we go

Ultimately, you get the final say in how you choose to pay for an MHA. Whether you are awarded scholarships or take out a private loan, in the end, you will hold a graduate degree that makes a great return on investment.

Works cited: 2017 Median Pay. (2018, April 13). Retrieved September 17, 2018, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm

Grad PLUS Loans - Apply, Credit, and Fees. (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2018, from https://www.edvisors.com/college-loans/federal/grad-plus/

Home. (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2018, from https://www.aupha.org/home

Landes, L. (2012, July 20). Tuition Reimbursement: A Benefit for Some Employees and Employers. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/moneybuilder/2012/07/20/tuition-reimbursement-a-benefit-for-some-employees-and-employers/#1729292e76c5

McGrath, M. (2015, June 29). Should You Take A Private Loan For Graduate School? Retrieved September 17, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2014/09/17/should-you-take-a-private-loan-for-graduate-school/#242b65a5564f

Online Master's Degree in Health Care Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2018, from https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/healthcare-administration-management-masters-degree

Powell, F. (n.d.). What You Should Know About the FAFSA. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/completing-the-fafsa

Summary. (2018, April 13). Retrieved September 17, 2018, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm

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