We get this question all the time on the BSer forums: “What are my chances for a scholarship?”
Unfortunately for pretty much everyone who ever asks this question, it is very unlikely. The reason we’re so blunt and categorically dismissive is, this question very often comes from the Indian in engineering – the most common of the common profiles. If that’s you, then just write this idea off and get busy with making your applications as strong as they can be. In other words, focus on GETTING IN, not GETTING MONEY.
It’s tough enough for candidates with your fairly standard profile to simply gain admission to a top school; it’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll get paid for getting your MBA and increasing your earnings potential. Don’t count on financial awards, just recognize the incredible ROI that an MBA can offer and go with that. If you were going back to school to research a cure for cancer, it would be different, but the MBA is going to benefit you and you alone and there just aren’t that many compelling reasons for society as a whole to foot the bill.
Here’s what Yale even says on their website:
All applicants are automatically considered for a merit scholarship. There is no need to take any additional steps to be considered. If you are awarded a scholarship, you will be notified at the same time you learn of your admission to the program. If you do not receive a merit scholarship (most admitted students do not), there are other means of financing your MBA studies, including outside scholarships for which you may be eligible. (emphasis added)
We recently saw that Columbia changed its policies on fellowship awards too; their website used to say that most awards covered both years of your MBA; now they say that most are one year only, and you must qualify for a renewal based on maintaining a certain academic performance.
Side note: We’d be willing to bet that Columbia has made this change in order to free up funds for more scholarship offers – we frequently see them losing out on good candidates who get some money thrown at them from other schools (Booth is especially fond of doing this). So even though this post is saying “don’t count on scholarship money” there are still some classes of applicants who will see some generous offers come through along with their acceptances.
Even so: Don’t count on it. The MBA has an amazing ROI. If you’re looking at this in terms of only going to a school that’s going to pay you to go there, you’re sort of missing the point, and you may be unwisely limiting your options.
The irony of course: HBS is probably the most generous school of all. Given the size of their endowment, they can afford to be. You get into HBS, you may win the lottery twice – once by the admit, and again by some free money. Sigh. Those lucky bastards. It’s so unfair, isn’t it? 😉