A lot of business professionals want to earn their MBA these days. But how to pay for it? This is a challenge that faces many business school applicants. While some employers will pay for at least part of some employees’ tuition, this is not always the case.
The good news is that there are scholarships out there that can offset much of the cost. In fact, Kaplan Test Prep reports that 43% of MBAs are able to graduate with no debt at all.
In addition to scholarships, there are other options for funding your graduate degree, including Perkins and Stafford loans, private loans and family support. Of course, loans must be eventually paid back. The best way to pay for your MBA is to get scholarships if you can find them. Below are some great strategies to find MBA scholarships.
1. Do Your Research At the University
One of the reasons many college students do not get scholarships is that they simply do not do enough research. In our short attention span Internet society, there sometimes is a tendency to expect research to be easy and fast. This is not always the case with finding scholarship money.
As you start to search for a business school, be aware of what the tuition costs will be. Spend a lot of time on the financial aid part of that university’s website to find all of the school scholarships and fellowships that are available. You may also want to talk to the director of financial aid on the phone to talk about any other scholarship opportunities that are not on the website.
Some schools may not require you to file separate applications for different scholarships, but some may. Other schools may require you to opt in to a mailing list to be considered for certain scholarships. Others may offer certain scholarships to certain population groups.
Carefully research the selection criteria for all scholarships that you may qualify for. Note which parts of the application will be considered. Remember to look if the scholarship is renewable or not, and what the conditions are for that. Also remember that you may have more scholarship opportunities if you are in a full time MBA, as opposed to a part time or online MBA.
2. Look Far and Wide
If you stop your research for MBA scholarships at only the university, you probably are leaving some money on the table. There are many private scholarships available that are not affiliated with one particular university. There are scholarships and fellowships for MBA students across the country who are female, Hispanic, international, for specific majors and on and on.
Most financial aid experts strongly advise students to do a lot of research to uncover scholarships that are not offered by the university they are attending. For example, US News and World Report highlights a student at the University of Iowa who found an outside scholarship for $10,000 from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation. If that student had only looked at the university for financial aid, he may not have had the same success.
Below are some current MBA scholarships that you can get that can be applied to many MBA programs across the nation:
- Foundation for Excellence in Management Consulting Scholarship: $5000 scholarship for MBA student who is going to work in management consulting.
- National Academy of Human Resources Graduate Scholarship: Scholarship of various amounts that can be obtained by a student earning an MBA in human resources.
- Wiley CPAexcel Scholarship: A $2500 scholarship for students who want to become CPAs; can be appropriate for MBA students studying accounting.
- Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA Scholarship: Applicants must be enrolled in any graduate business school in the US that is accredited; various amounts.
3. Be a Strong Scholarship Candidate
You may find as you do your scholarship research that the selection criteria can be rather vague. What does it really mean to be a ‘highly qualified candidate’? It can help your search if you can find statistics on scholarship recipients in the past, and learn what their GPA and general backgrounds were. Consider talking to the admissions counselors and asking them what the most important criteria are to get a specific scholarship.
Remember you will almost certainly have to be a well above average student to be considered for scarce MBA scholarship funds. You can bet that your GPA and GMAT score will be factors in being considered, as will work experience, volunteer work and your undergraduate work.
According to the Forte Foundation, an organization that support women in business school, the most scholarship money goes to students with the highest GMATs, best GPAs and best and richest work experience.
4. Push Your GMAT Score
If you are applying to schools that require the GMAT, it can help if you have a high GMAT score. This can help to offset a lower undergraduate GPA, and it also can make up for less work experience than average.
The GMAT score can be a major factor in getting into a good program, and it can make you eligible for more scholarship dollars. For example, if you score 30 points above the average applicant’s GMAT score, you are a more competitive applicant. This can help you to be considered for more scholarships.
5. Apply Early
Applying to MBA school is an important life decision and it is important to apply to schools early. If you apply early before the bulk of students apply and are a strong candidate, you may have more options to obtain scholarships and fellowships.
An additional benefit of being a strong MBA school candidate is you could have more than one acceptance letter in your hand. If you have several solid programs that want you to attend, you could ask for each school to provide more scholarship funds.
According to a former admissions officer at the University of Texas Austin, the university will try to use scholarship dollars to woo the best students. But if you plan to ask for more scholarship funds, be sure to have a humble, polite attitude about it. Show the university that you have other MBA offers; you might even tell them about a higher scholarship and fellowship offer one of their competing schools offered you.
Top Schools for MBA Scholarships
Now that you have a better idea how to get your hands on some MBA scholarship money, here are some of the most generous schools in the country in terms of scholarship money for MBA students:
- Harvard Business School: $31.5 million total scholarships per year; average grant is $32,000; 50% of students on scholarship.
- University of Pennsylvania Wharton: $16.9 million total scholarships per year; average grant is $30,500; 33% of students on scholarship.
- University of Chicago Booth: $16.3 million total scholarships per year; average grant is $30,000; 60% of students on scholarship.
- Stanford University; $15.7 million total scholarships per year; average grant is $35,800; 52% of students on scholarship.
- University of Michigan: $15.4 million total scholarships per year; average grant of $22,300; 48% of students on scholarship.
- New York University Stern: $12.8 million total scholarships per year; average grant is $26,400; 62% of students on scholarship.
- UCLA: $12.1 million total scholarships per year; average grant is $25,800; 65% of students on scholarship.
- Northwestern University; $11.8 million total scholarships per year; average grant is $22,800; 35% of students on scholarship.
- Columbia Business School: $10.1 million total scholarships per year; average grant is $20,500; 46% of students on scholarship.
- University of Virginia: $8.4 million total scholarships per year; average grant is $30,800; 43% of students on scholarship.
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- How to Cash in on MBA Scholarships. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.kaptest.com/study/gmat/how-to-cash-in-on-mba-scholarships/
- 3 Ways To Be a Good Candidate for MBA Scholarships. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/articles/2014/12/11/become-a-good-candidate-for-mba-scholarships