Hopefully when you did your tour of your target school’s online MBA application you paid careful attention to their policies around issuing a waiver of the application fee.
All schools offer at least one category of waiver, typically around service-based professions like military, TFA, and Peace Corps. (BTW, we have programs like that, too! Though we’ve recently redirected most of our efforts to supporting BIPOC candidates going for the MBA. We have limited flexibility in doing pro bono work at this stage of the season because, like, WORKLOAD, but we definitely can set you up with some goodies if you’re a do-gooder type — please reach out if you’re in one of these categories!)
HBS was slow to embrace the fee waiver idea for military candidates, but they have since gotten with the program, and last we checked, they actually offer waivers for all full-time military regardless of citizenship. Other U.S. schools tend to only offer waivers for U.S. military service.
Some schools are exceptionally generous, offering discounted fees or full waivers for things like participating in their Diversity Day and other admissions outreach events. Duke is in this category; Darden offers waivers for their EMBA/GEMBA candidates who go through a pre-application consult with their admissions team. Yale offers a sliding scale for the fee for very low-income candidates (which we originally disparaged but have had second thoughts recently.
These policies are too variable for us to list all of them out, so today’s post is only to exhort you to research early, and sign up soon. Some of the schools’ app systems automatically apply the waiver on your app profile as soon as you indicate you qualify for whatever it is they offer. For others, you need to explicitly request the waiver by sending an email or in some other way activating their review process. So, if you qualify for a waiver, then you’ll need to go investigate it for each school, and follow the instructions they have in their app — since the policies are different!
Look into them NOW so you can jump through whatever hoops the respective school requires (it’s usually only a matter of submitting an official document into the app, but it could be more than that).
Because of the lag time involved in requesting the waiver, and having it approved, then go do this right now. It has to be done in advance; it cannot be applied retroactively. The schools will not issue you a refund of an application fee later on, if you failed to request it on time and you end up forced to pay the fee in order to get the application in.
If you run out of time on something like this, and you requested the waiver late, but it didn’t get processed by the admissions office before the app is due, you’ll need to pony up the money for the fee and just live with the pain of paying when you didn’t have to. Contacting the admissions office on the day of the deadline to get the fee waived is truly ill advised; that would not be sending the right message as you’re working to put forth a strong impression! How you handle the overall process of applying can have a tremendous impact on what your admissions decision says. When an applicant calls admissions in a panic at the last minute, well, that’s not really conveying maturity, higher-order emotional regulation, or simple planning-ahead skills. Take care of these steps ahead of time.
And while we’re on the subject: The app dataset is a tremendous opportunity. Start your applications now and review them!! See what the schools are asking. Plan things out. Every school may seem like it’s identical and the MBA programs are interchangeable, but their application requirements most certainly are not!
To see some helpful comments from BSers who’ve gone before, these prior-season posts on the topic of MBA app fee waivers and app fees in general may be useful — just remember that policies can change from year to year, and always review the current information published in each school’s own online application for the applicable rules today.