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Financial Aid

With the high price of college tuition in today’s uncertain economic climate, most students who apply for university admission will attempt to secure some financial aid.  The most common form of financial aid is based on need, and is determined by the FAFSA form submitted by the student along with his or her application.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) determines a student’s eligibility for federal loans and other aid packages; much like submitting the application itself, sending in your FAFSA early increases your chances of receiving aid from this limited amount of funding.  If you are applying for college entry shortly after high school graduation, your parents’ finances will be examined in addition to your own.

Many colleges and universities offer Merit-Based Scholarships.  These are sometimes offered to students on the basis of their academic achievement in high school, or for exceptional SAT scores.  Frequently, lower-ranked colleges will offer merit-based scholarships to encourage good students to attend, which improves the quality of the student body, and often makes college affordable for good students with less money.  Do inquire about school-specific scholarships through your guidance counselor at school, or through the university’s financial aid office – you may need to do more than just keep earning good grades!

This brings us to Non-Institution-Based Scholarships and Grants – the least-understood source of funding for college applicants.  These scholarships and grants vary widely and can be researched in many different ways.  Did you know that you might qualify for a scholarship because…

  • You plan to pursue a specific major?
  • You belong to a specific ethnic or religious group?
  • You have a specific career goal?
  • You or your family has worked at a specific company?
  • You have participated in specific volunteer work?
  • You have a disability?
  • You can speak a particular foreign language?
  • You are an athlete?
  • You or a family member is a veteran?
  • You and/or your family have experienced a particular hardship (Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, etc.)?

You, as an individual, may qualify for many different scholarships, many with quickly approaching deadlines, so it is important to stay on top of things.  Check out some scholarship books, like the College Board’s Scholarship Handbook, or Peterson’s Scholarships, Grants and Prizes.  Register yourself on scholarships.com, fastweb.com, finaid.com, or any of the many scholarship websites right away; they may notify you when a new scholarship that fits your profile appears, so don’t forget to keep your profile up-to-date with all of your latest successes!  Scholarships listed on these websites are frequently nationwide or international, and receive many applications, so don’t forget to research Local Scholarships as well, such as grants from:

  • Alumni of your high school
  • Local businesses and corporations
  • Community groups, like the Elks, the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, or Masons
  • Your local Department of Education

The best way to learn about Local Scholarships to ask your school or the organizations directly in a respectful and mature way – don’t have a parent write or telephone on your behalf!

Most of us think that getting a management education simultaneously means earning an MBA and accumulating a large amount of debt in student loans. Inspired by a recent article from BusinessWeek which challenged this notion with a report on full-tuition fellowships, we performed extensive research and data collection on our own and summarized our findings in three segments.

Today, we will present key data of full-tuition fellowships from many of the top US management programs including Berkeley’s Haas, Columbia, and University of Chicago. In the next two articles, we will cover major non-US schools.

During your application process, do not overlook these fellowships. Many schools usually require one extra essay or interview to be eligible for a two-year, full-tuition fellowship. The list of fellowships at the schools below may surprise you.

University of Chicago

Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 11

Average class size for full-time MBA program550

How to apply: Most admitted applicants are automatically considered at the time of the application, but many have additional required interviews as part of the final selection process. All of the fellowships have a mentoring component.


Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: About 25

Average class size: 1,196

How to apply: Automatically considered with application


Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 25

Average class size: 918

How to apply: Scholarships are awarded based on financial need. To apply, complete and submit a financial aid application upon admission

California Berkeley Haas

Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 14

Average class size: 250

How to apply: For most of the fellowships, students automatically quality with application. For one particular fellowship, an additional essay is required.

MIT Sloan

Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 10-12

Average class size: 375

How to apply: Automatic consideration with application

Pennsylvania Wharton

Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 10

Average class size: 825

How to apply: Selection is based on the a number of criteria such as personal background, leadership, and integrity. Students who fit the criteria must complete a separate financial aid form.

Virginia Darden

Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 61

Average class size: 632

How to apply: All admitted applicants are considered. For one fellowship, a separate application is required


Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 11

Average class size: 180

How to apply: All applicants are considered for merit scholarships

The bottom line is that it is definitely worthwhile to perhaps write an extra essay if it means earning a savings of $200,000 for your education. For many of the fellowships, all admitted applicants qualify.

For a list of more business schools that offer full-tuition fellowships, please refer to this insightful article in BusinessWeek.

Posted on September 15, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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Today’s post is dedicated to US students looking to finance their MBA studies or non-US students looking for ways to fund a program of study in the US.  The process of finding aid, whether it be need or merit based, can be trying although not impossible for students everywhere. In the end, you will need to decide if financing a business education is a good investment for you.

Your Options

  • Need-based Loans in the US

Both US and non-US students have the opportunity to apply for need-based loans. The process and loan providers are different for each group, however. One of the first places to look is a federal loan such as the Stafford loan, which has an 18,500 USD limit. The Stafford is available to US and non-US students but for the latter is more challenging: A non-US student must have a cosigner that is either a permanent resident or a US citizen. Some schools, such as MIT Sloan, will even commit themselves as a student’s cosigner.

The Stafford loan is a good first step because of the generally low interest rates associated with a federal loan vs. a private loan. In fact under a subsidized federal loan, the student pays no interest accrued while in school.

  • Merit-based Scholarships

Research other opportunities that your MBA program of choice offers. Merit based scholarships are a possibility and should be researched despite the difficulty and competition associated with scholarships. In many cases, non-US applicants will be placed in the same pool as US students, which increases the competition. This should not be a deterrent because if a student is not granted the scholarship they may be put into an applicant pool for a different scholarship by the organization that will be granting them the aid.

  • Alternatives

Many programs also offer Teaching Assistant positions or fellowships. Each school is different, so again, check with your programs of choice.

Some MBA program have impressive financing options. For example,Wharton has a daunting price tag at 40,000 USD per year, but students typically secure summer internships at where they can make between 10,000 and 40,000 USD. Wharton also allows the student, either US based or international, to borrow up to 130,000 USD with varying interest rates to finance the student’s education and living expenses for the two years that they will be studying. Thomas Caleel, director of MBA admissions and financial aid at Wharton describes the school as “need-blind.” Their admission is based on merit exclusively yet the school guarantees financing for any student.

  • Special Opportunities for non-US students

For non-US students, the International Education Financial Aid website offers a robust database for research financial aid and scholarship opportunities. The Institute for International Education has a similar database. Additionally, one can investigate via the US State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural affairs program called Education USA. This program is a network that provides information on studying in the US and importantly, includes information of getting aid.


  • Acquiring financial aid takes persistence, focus, and organization. Look at the website of the school you are interested in and get detailed information on the financial aid services they offer.
  • Remember: First look into a federal loan, and then do research on private loans to receive more aid. If you are not based in the US and require financial aid, research opportunities listed in the sites above.
  • Be organized in your debt management. If it is possible, go visit the school’s financial aid offices.
  • Realize that an MBA is an investment. The average salary of a MBA holder after graduation is 88,600 USD per year. It is difficult to put a price tag on the friendships, knowledge, and networks you will develop in B-School. Is this an investment you want to make?

Posted on January 9, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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