Healthcare Administration

Managing the Cost of a Master’s in Healthcare Administration

Managing the Cost of a Master’s in Healthcare Administration
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Noodle Staff January 11, 2019

If you are considering earning an MHA to advance your career in healthcare, allow Noodle to outline ways to defray the costs and ensure a strong return on your investment.

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Healthcare is a growing industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare administration positions are projected to increase by 20% over the next eight years.

Healthcare administrators coordinate services, hire and train personnel, manage budget and financial issues, and direct changes related to laws, procedures, and technologies. They often work in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, clinics, or with physician’s groups. Other potential employers include insurance companies, healthcare suppliers, pharmaceutical companies, biotechnical companies, management services, and consulting firms.

The median annual wage for medical and health services managers was $98,350 in May 2017. Healthcare managers make about $10,000 more than managers in other fields. And it pays to have a master’s: according to a review by U.S. News and World Report,, the median income potential of a healthcare professional with a Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA) is about $18,000 higher than the income of a healthcare professional with a bachelor’s degree alone. If you are considering earning an MHA to advance your career in healthcare, there are many ways to defray the costs and ensure a strong return on your investment.

The Cost of the MHA

A Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration can vary in cost due to a variety of factors including the number of required credit hours, the state in which you reside, and the rates charged by the program. The total cost for an in-state student can range from $6,500 to $36,000. Out-of-state costs may range from $26,000 to $75,000. Some programs charge one rate for all students. It is important to consider whether getting your Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration will be worth your investment of time, energy, and money. Even if you are able to manage the cash flow to pay for your degree as you go, it is helpful to explore additional funding streams.

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“I’m Interested in Healthcare Administration!”

Health administration undergraduates sometimes start out in admissions, marketing, risk management, managed-care analysis, or other non-clinical staff positions and work their way into higher-level administrative roles. While it’s possible to work in healthcare administration without an MHA, it can take a lot longer to climb the managerial ladder without a master’s degree. (source)

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2018, the median wage for health service managers was $99,730 per year, with the highest 10 percent in the field earning over $182,600 in base pay. Employment opportunities for health services managers is expected to grow by 20 percent by 2026. This growth is much faster than growth for other occupations. (source)

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MHA Scholarship and Grant Awards

There are a variety of scholarships available for degrees in healthcare administration. These typically vary by state and by program. MHA scholarships may be offered to students based on their organizational affiliations, industry, gender, racial/ethnic background, academic merits, extracurricular activities, or financial need. For example, the David A. Winston Scholarship awards $10,000 to up to 20 students each year who demonstrate the potential to be successful in healthcare management. The Foster G. McGraw Graduate Student Scholarship, offered by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), awards $5,000 to up to 20 students each year who are in their last year of their degree program and demonstrate financial need. Smaller scholarships are also available. The ACHE also offers a $1,000 – $2,000 award as part of the Richard J. Stull Student Essay Competition in Healthcare Management. Minority students may apply for the Albert W. Dent Scholarship offered by ACHE. The Association of University Programs in Health Administration includes a network of scholarships and grants for students who are members of their organization.

Your affiliation with a particular group, program, or organization may also help you to qualify for funding when you seek an MHA The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers grants for research and higher education pursuits. These are financial awards that do not require repayment. Students may find and apply for grants through Grants.gov.

Options for Loans to Pay for an MHA

A student loan is another viable option for funding an MHA. Federal loans are available to students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There are two types of publicly funded loans that your school may offer to you. These loans are the Federal Perkins Loan and the Direct PLUS Loan through the U.S. Department of Education. There is also the Direct Unsubsidized Loan which has an annual limit of $20,500 and a total debt limit of $73,000. Depending on where you find employment after you complete your degree, you may be able to get relief through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. There is no forgiveness if you obtain the Direct Stafford Loan, which accrues interest until the loan is paid in full.

Private loans are also available to fund your graduate studies. Though the terms will vary greatly depending on the lender, these can be a good choice depending on your circumstances. According to NerdWallet, the companies offering the best private loans include Sallie Mae, Citizens One, College Ave, SunTrust, Ascent, and Discover. Private loans offer the advantages of repayment options like early pay-off as well as variable interest rates. Private lenders may also allow you to borrow more money than you would be offered in a federal loan.

Employer Tuition Repayment Programs

If you are working with an employer who is in the healthcare industry, they may offer a program that will pay for your graduate education. Terms of this sponsorship might be that you remain with the company for a number of years after completing your degree. In addition, you may have to pay for your costs upfront, and then ask for reimbursement from your employer once you’ve demonstrated successful course completion.

Find the Financial Offerings That Work for You

As you can see, a Master’s in Healthcare Administration can expand opportunities and help you earn a much higher income than you would with a bachelor’s degree alone. The costs of an MHA can vary, but you do have many different options to pay for your graduate education. In addition to financial aid offerings through your college, university, or program, there are many opportunities for assistance through organizations, foundations, federal programs, private loans, and employers. It is possible to apply for and receive scholarships and grants from more than one source to afford your program of choice. Once you determine how to pay for your degree, your successful completion of the MHA has the potential to open doors and push you forward in the healthcare industry.

Works cited

American College of Healthcare Executives. Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://www.ache.org/Faculty_Students/dent_scholarship.cfm

American College of Healthcare Executives. Foster G. McGraw Graduate Student Scholarship. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://www.ache.org/Faculty_Students/mcgaw_scholarship.cfm

American College of Healthcare Executives. Richard J. Stull Essay Competition in Healthcare Management. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://www.ache.org/Faculty_Students/student_essay.cfm

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical and Health Services Managers. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm

David A. Wilson Health Policy Scholarships. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://www.winstonfellowship.org/health-policy-scholarship/

U.S. Department of Education. If you are employed by a government or not-for-profit organization, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Federal Student Aid. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service

U.S. Department of Education. PLUS loans are federal loans that graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students can use to help pay for college or career school. Federal Student Aid. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans/plus

U.S. Department of Education. The Federal Perkins Loan Program provided money for college or career school for students with financial need. Federal Student Aid. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans/perkins

U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education offers low-interest loans to eligible students to help cover the cost of college or career school. Federal Student Aid. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans/subsidized-unsubsidized

U.S. Department of Education. Use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form to apply for federal aid for college, career school, or graduate school. Federal Student Aid. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Grants.gov. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://www.grants.gov/learn-grants/grant-making-agencies/department-of-health-and-human-services.html

U.S. News and World Report. Graduate School Stafford Loan FAQs. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/paying/articles/2011/03/16/graduate-school-stafford-loan-faqs#1

U.S. News and World Report. Online Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration: An Overview. Retrieved September 6, 2018 from https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/healthcare-administration-management-masters-degree

Vogt, Peter. Where Can You Work with a Master’s in Healthcare Administration? Monster. https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/masters-in-healthcare-admin-jobs

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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