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I am a final year BA Economics Student in Ghana. I want to have my MBA studies right after I finish my degree in 2007. But I face enormous financial constraints. Do you have any advice?

If you are an international student seeking funding for a U.S. MBA program, you have several options. Here's an overview:

Financial Aid in Your Home Country

Organizations within Ghana might be the most promising avenue for securing financial aid. Check with your current university's educational advising center for information about local funding sources. Or consult the Ghanaian government's ministry of education; many governments award financial aid, provided you return home after you've completed the MBA.

Another option is to find a job with a Ghanaian business and eventually secure funding through them. Most U.S. MBA students have several years experience working in the private sector. Some of them receive grants from their employers to continue their education.

International Financial Aid

The following international organizations offer financial support to graduate students: the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), AMIDEAST, the International Maritime Organization, the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, and the World Council of Churches. Some of these programs may be restricted to certain academic disciplines. The Fulbright scholarships, for example, are not available to MBA students.

U.S. Financial Aid

The major federal financial aid programs aren't available to international students, so you can disregard Pell Grant, Stafford, or PLUS loans. The U.S. government does make some funding available to students from certain countries, however. For more information on these programs, contact your embassy, or check the websites of U.S. institutions such as the Department of State, the U.S. Information Agency, and the Agency for International Development.

Private and academic financial aid for international MBA students is hard to come by. For private scholarships, search the FastWeb database (http://www.fastweb.com). Ghanaian-American groups may also provide assistance. Aid from the MBA program itself is scarce, but some schools offer tuition grants in exchange for research and teaching services.

The eduPass organization (http://www.edupass.org/) is a great resource for international students studying in the USA. Their website provides information about financial aid and a list of relevant links. The site strikes a discouraging tone about securing funding for undergraduate education, but don't let this deter you; graduate students face better prospects in the quest for financial aid.