NOTE: We’re reblahgging this from 2012, since it’s a timely topic that gets asked about a lot!!
Had a Brave Supplicant ask us about GMAT scores and scholarships recently — something like, “If my score is impressive enough, will I get a full tuition grant at bschool?”
Here’s what we said:
It is actually quite rare to get a full-ride scholarship. Most schools do offer these but they tend to go to accepted candidates that the school is eager to recruit away from other competitive programs; typically, these go to people who will provide an important element of diversity to the MBA program (women, underrepresented minorities, very unusual backgrounds, etc.). If you’re from an oversubscribed candidate pool like Indian male or white guy in finance or consulting, then we don’t actually hold out much hope for you to get significant scholarship money, just as a very general rule.
Of course, there are always exceptions, and we do not know anything about your profile, so who knows what may happen!! Some bschools (like Harvard and Stanford) only offer need-based awards, based on the student’s financial circumstances; other schools (like Columbia) offer merit-based awards, which are sometimes based on the GMAT but mostly on the GPA and academic performance and other factors that show distinction. Many schools are able to issue offers of aid when they are very interested in recruiting a particular candidate, typically those underrepresented applicants we mentioned above, who the schools want to bring on board in order to increase diversity of the class. Public schools like the MBA programs at the University of California system may be prohibited from offering aid to those candidates, however, based on the laws that they are operating under from their state.
As you can see, each school handles it differently.
Because the MBA is seen as having an incredible ROI — most people are easily able to recoup their MBA investment quite easily based on increased earnings power — there just isn’t much scholarship money to go around. And, because of the extreme ROI, you shouldn’t expect to get support for this endeavor – it will pay for itself, so you should consider it an investment. This typically means looking for loans and funding to cover the cost and believing in the probabilities that you’ll be able to make good on it.
The risk/reward ratio for the MBA — for most people — is favorable.
Now of course there’s always contrarians and there’s all sorts of “is the MBA worth it?” controversies floating around — they tend to come and go quite regularly, yet for now, the MBA has remained incredibly popular. The cost of the MBA is significant, and you definitely need to look at the big picture and evaluate whether it will be worth it FOR YOU.
But sorry folks. If you’re the typical candidate, nobody is going to pay you to get an MBA.