Last year, Takashi Yoshizaki was halfway through his executive M.B.A. studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business when his employer announced it would file for bankruptcy.

This could have been a worrisome development, to say the least, since he was personally committed to pay the $150,000 in tuition. But Mr. Yoshizaki, 37 years old, quickly negotiated a new position with one of the companies buying out his firm. And paying his tuition himself, he says, helped maximize his bargaining power.

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