Hopefully when you did your tour of your target school’s online MBA application recently 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 do too! 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.) HBS was slow to embrace this for military candidates but they have recently gotten with the program, and they actually offer waivers for all full-time military regardless of citizenship, whereas other schools 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 on-campus events. Duke is in this category. Yale offers a sliding scale for the fee for very low-income candidates.
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. If you qualify for a waiver, then you’ll need to request it following the instructions in each school’s app. Some are automatic and the online application grants the waiver immediately upon you attesting to qualify for one. Others have a review process where you submit your request for the waiver and it needs to be verified first. Because all of these work differently, then you need to look into them NOW and 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 definitely take advantage of this option now. 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.
Definitely don’t hold off on submitting past the application deadline, either! If you run out of time on something like this and the waiver didn’t get processed 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!
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.