The coronavirus pandemic imposed a sharp economic shock across the world, making funding a far more pressing concern for students applying to elite business schools where the MBA fees can easily run into six-figure sums.
Schools appear to be responding by upping the ante with MBA scholarships, also known as fellowships, and a wide range of other financial aid. Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students who can demonstrate professional and personal excellence, with criteria typically including academic merit, career goals and life experiences.
In most cases, students are automatically considered for merit-based awards. A particular emphasis is placed on awards for attracting diversity candidates such as women and ethnic minorities. There also tends to be financial aid specifically for military veterans in the US.
Financial aid offices will support students applying for various loan programs too, such as US federal loans for domestic students as well as private loans for overseas candidates that typically require a US co-signer.
Some schools even run their own Loan Assistance Programs, which reduce the burden of paying business school loans for graduates who meet certain criteria. At some institutions, the assistance is reserved for those pursuing careers in the social impact, nonprofit or government sectors.
Another way to reduce the cost of MBA tuition is to complete a teaching or graduate fellowship, assisting professors in business school departments in return for a reduction in fees. Examples of positions include Admissions Ambassadors, Careers Coaches and Teaching Assistants.
Financial aid offices will also offer tools and resources such as budget calculators, credit report checks and links to purchase discounted academic textbooks.
European business schools do not have the large budgets of their US peers, typically, though some institutions on the continent offer consistent financial aid every year.
Some MBA programs, regardless of their location, will support some students in creating a case for company support, which has been harder to come by in recent years, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
At UCLA, approximately 75 percent of MBA students receive some form of financial assistance, and half of the students receive fellowships. Most of the candidates rely on some combination of fellowships and loans to fund their MBA studies. In addition, second-year MBA students can apply to become Graduate Teaching Assistants or Research Assistants. Approximately 16 percent of the cohort serves as TAs or RAs each year, with the positions chosen by faculty. UCLA also directs students to private sources of MBA funding at a wide range of external organizations.View School Profile
NYU Stern offers a variety of MBA scholarships to admitted students, with about 25 percent of the cohort receiving a merit-based scholarship. The majority of these awards cover the full fees or half of tuition. Beyond scholarships, students can receive up some tuition remission by working as a Teaching Fellow (TF) or Graduate Fellow (GF) in Stern’s academic departments. Hundreds of MBA students fill these positions every year. Moreover, Stern runs a Loan Assistance Program, which lessons the burden of repaying business school loans for graduates who pursue careers in social enterprise.View School Profile
At Kellogg, 62 percent of MBA students receive some sort of financial aid, whether that’s a loan or a scholarship. Admitted students are automatically considered for a merit scholarship. They are reserved for exceptional candidates who can demonstrate professional and personal excellence. Kellogg also offers scholarships based on financial need for US citizens and permanent residents only. Since 2009, the school has also participated in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a national scheme that offers financial assistance to students from the US armed forces.View School Profile
At Chicago Booth, the majority of students fund their MBA experience through student loans and typically repay them within a decade of graduating. The institution also offers merit-based scholarships and fellowships to select admitted students. The financial aid office also supports students in applying for sources of external funding, from foundations, corporations and associations. Booth also runs the Civic Scholars Program that offers substantial tuition awards of up to 100 percent of MBA fees to students who work for a non-profit organization, or the government.View School Profile
At INSEAD, there are more than 90 different scholarships available to admitted MBA students. There are needs-based and merit-based awards, along with “spot scholarships” which are awarded with no separate application necessary, based on an exceptional admissions profile. INSEAD has a €5.7m scholarship fund, with 30 percent of MBA candidates receiving an award. INSEAD also has partnerships with different private loan providers including Prodigy Finance and Brain Capital.View School Profile
At Yale, all applicants are automatically considered for merit-based MBA scholarships with decisions received by students with their offer letter. The Office of Financial Aid also assists students in applying for federal, private and international student loans. Yale also runs a Loan Forgiveness Program. Since 1986 there have been some 400 participants and $12m in total support provided to alumni working in the public or nonprofit sectors. Yale also has its Entrepreneurial Fellows Program, which lets students defer their student loan payments for the first two years after graduation, provided they are launching a startup. The school pays the interest accruing on the loans, up to $7,000 per year.View School Profile
New York’s Columbia Business School offers a substantial number of MBA fellowships and scholarships, both merit and needs-based, as well as on-campus work opportunities. MBA students can work as Course Assistants, Tutors or Research Assistants, for example. Columbia also supports students with their external searches for funding, including through a scholarship search engine and listing of external awards on its website. There is also specific funding for military and veteran candidates at CBS.View School Profile
All admitted MBA students are considered for financial support from the Wharton Fellowship Program, which is funded by donations and money from the business school’s own coffers. Criteria for selection include unique personal qualities and background, academic achievement, professional development and community involvement. What’s more, military candidates are eligible for a Yellow Ribbon Award.View School Profile
Each year London Business School supports a large number of students in securing financial support from their employers. The school helps students create a case for company support. Candidates are also automatically considered for one or more of 89 different scholarships at LBS. One recent addition to the pool of funding is the Laidlaw Women’s Leadership Fund, which funds half the tuition fees for five talented female MBA candidates every year.View School Profile
After accepting an MBA place at MIT Sloan, each incoming student is automatically considered for fellowships and scholarships awarded by the institution. Students are also supported in applying for additional funding sources from external foundations and organizations. MIT Student Financial Services also helps students establish their eligibility for federal and private loans. The school offers flexible payment terms too. The MIT monthly payment plan allows students to pay tuition in ten installments over the course of the year.View School Profile