So I’ve had a little downtime over the last few days in the office and was thinking about my cost of earning an MBA. This mini-analysis ended up taking on a life of its own and it turned into a pretty sophisticated look at figuring out what am I giving up and how long (and how much) it is going to take to pay off. I realize that $$$ is not the (only) reason that people go to b-school, but it's definitely an important factor. As a very analytical person, I thought it was important to dig deep on this topic.
I have put together what I think is a comprehensive MBA return on investment (ROI) tool/model (more specifically, I used net present value, NPV). It looks at the MBA and non-MBA career paths and identifies not only when you’ll “breakeven” but also how your compensation will look over an extended period of time. I believe there are some other tools available online, but I don’t think that any of them offer much flexibility and are way to simplistic for a very important and complicated decision. Since I’ve gained so much from gmatclub, I wanted to share this tool so that my fellow g-clubbers can tailor it based on personalized life plans.
For example, some people want to go into i-banking. This particular job function has a pretty unique compensation path. Moreover, most people that (want to) go into banking, only do so for a few years before jumping to investment management or private equity or some other excursion. Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense to say, “My compensation is going to be $350k for the next 12 years.” Other folks want to go into marketing, consulting, operations, strategy, etc. - areas that have different compensation tracks than investment banking. This tool is designed for any person starting with/transitioning to any career path.
I realize this may not be perfect, but I think it will be very informative regardless of your interests. This should help you whether you’re considering an elite vs. a trans-elite or a tier-two school vs. a regional program. It will also be helpful for those that are deciding between a part-time or full-time program. This will also help high-income earners that are deciding whether to go back to school at all. Ultimately, I wanted to create something that is user friendly and allows for almost an unlimited number of scenarios. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Enjoy and let me know what you think.
ryguyEDIT - Version 2.0 Available Now!
I made a handful of changes since I created this model last summer, but below are the two major changes that I have made:1) Updated fields to incorporate internship earnings2) Ability to easily compare a part-time v. full-time MBA program (from a financial perspective)
A couple of comments and feedback that were suggested from last time that I did not specifically address (and my reasons for choosing not to do so).1) Debt service of student loans.
So here’s the deal. This model assumes that tuition is paid upfront (i.e., during school). This is unrealistic for the vast majority of folks on the board here, and probably most students in general. However, I prefer to take a highly conservative approach when it comes to figuring out when I will break even. I suppose this is a worst-case scenario (i.e., makes the payback period look longer than it should), but in my mind, I’d rather err on the side of a longer payback period than a shorter payback period.
So why does this matter when tuition is paid? It is more expensive to pay for tuition with today’s dollars than it is X years down the road. For instance, if you are on a 10-yr repayment plan paying $600 a month - $600 in today’s terms is a lot more money than it is 5, 6, or 7 years from now (and for simplicity’s sake, let’s ignore fluctuations in the value of the US dollar). If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this: Would you rather I gave you $600 today or $600 in 6 years from now. Good, I’m glad we’re on the same page.
For more detail on this, I explain this in general assumption #3 on the Instructions worksheet. In that section, I’ve also included instructions for a scenario that could be applicable for folks that go into investment banking, private equity, or any other very high paying post-MBA job.2) Taxes.
I received some comments saying that tuition is paid with after-tax dollars, but salary is listed in before tax dollars. Sure, fair enough. If you think that it is appropriate to adjust for this, multiple your salary by (1 minus your expected tax rate) and plug that in for your post-grad salary. I chose not to do this for the base case scenario, but again, I’ve tried to make this model flexible enough where you can put in whatever assumptions YOU think are appropriate.
Updated directions are included on the first worksheet of the excel file. Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll be happy to address any issues/comments that may be related to your particular circumstances. Also, if you think there are any improvements that could be made to this for future versions, I’ll see what I can do to incorporate them. And again, I'm human, so if you find any errors, let me know and I'll correct them. Enjoy and let me know what you think.
The True Value of YOUR MBA: 103-t64239
GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread: 103-t63245
How Much Weight Does the CFA Carry with Admissions: 103-t68059