Tackling Michigan's Tuition

The admissions director and the assistant director of financial aid at Ross School of Business discuss financial aid and the school's scholarship policies

University of Michigan Ross School of Business admissions director Soojin Kwon Koh and assistant director of financial aid Diane Hunt recently answered a few questions about how to deal with finances while attending BusinessWeek's No. 5-ranked full-time MBA program. Ross' tuition capped out at $42,024 for nonresidents and $36,874 for residents for the 2006-2007 academic year.

The school's recommended annual budget (including tuition and living expenses) comes to $59,447 for nonresidents and $54,447 for residents, a strain on any student's wallet, in-state or not. Koh and Hunt recommend eliminating home-mortgage debt and trying to live below one's means. But worry not, Ross hopefuls—the school doled out financial aid to 87% of its full-time MBA students for 2006-2007.

Ross has its own financial aid office, separate from the University of Michigan, which Koh acknowledges is rare. The school likes to have jurisdiction over its own scholarship recipients.

Koh and Hunt spoke with BusinessWeek's Erica Pelzek. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Can you give a quick summary of Ross' financial aid services?

Koh: Scholarships are through me, and then financial aid and loans go through financial aid. For scholarships, there's not a separate office; scholarships are awarded on the basis of their application materials. Financial aid packages are done by Diane. We have our own financial aid office for Ross, which I understand is uncommon.

What can prospective students do now to make budgeting easier for them when they're at Ross?

Hunt: One of the first things that they need to realize is that it's going to be a little bit different from living in the real world. For students who are single, it's not as much of a jolt as students who come back with families. There are certain things we can't count—for one thing, if students have a car, we can't factor those monetary obligations into their financial aid package. Also, credit-card debt—we cannot allow any financial aid to go toward credit-card debt. It won't be quite the ramen noodle lifestyle undergrad was, but students will have to be more frugal.

Are assistantships available to MBA students?

Koh: Students can seek assistantships here at the university, but we don't offer them out of the business school. For example, they can apply and be selected to be a peer counselor, for which they get paid, and there are occasional opportunities to work directly with professors. There are very few students who become graduate assistants, however...

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