Lots of candidates ask about financial aid. Ideally, they want to get a world-class MBA for free. Here are a few simple admonitions. The basic point is: Generally scholarships are used to attract the sort of candidates who bring more to the cohort than the average member of the cohort. So, to get a scholarship, you'll need to look at schools that are far below the schools we are talking about.
- Scholarships cost you money in the long run if they influence your choice of school. It's most likely that you'll get a larger scholarship from a school that's much worse than the best school that will accept you. As a special rule of thumb, it's important to understand in particular that accepting a full waiver from a school you would not otherwise attend comes at a high cost: typically it will bring you to a school that's less good than the one you would have had to pay for, so the opportunity cost can be quite high.
- Scholarships are for strong candidates, especially the larger scholarships. Schools generally use scholarships to attract candidates who, otherwise, might attend better schools and who fit the school's recruiting companies. Top schools generally don't need to offer *full* waivers to attract those students.
- It is possible, but it's not common, to get full scholarships. It's not realistic to expect one. A friend of mine got a full waiver and, to give context, she had a PhD in economics from the top university in in one of the BRICS countries, had competed at the Olympic level (in a sport that interested this university), and had a successful career in market research. She would have gone to INSEAD if the school had not waived the tuition.
- Not all schools have substantial funds for scholarships. To get a scholarship in the US, for example, aim for rich, private universities where you are well above the average. Don't expect public, state universities to have big scholarship funds.
PS Most scholarships are small, and don't cover most of the tuition cost let alone living costs.
[Edited by Duncan on Jan 12, 2016]