With business school scholarship funding for MBA candidates skyrocketing, success stories among students receiving lucrative aid provide marketing fodder for the admissions consulting industry – and clues to what kind of applicants scholarship officers target in the secretive arena of financial aid decision-making.
Aringo admissions consulting claims its clients have won $7.5 million in scholarships over the company’s history. North Star Admissions boasts that its clients have been offered a total of $2 million over the past year, including full rides at Tuck, Darden, and Yale. Stacy Blackman Consulting claims its clients in 2012 received more than $2.5 million in scholarship offers.
Stratus Admissions Counseling asserts that since 2011 its clients have received more than $15 million in MBA scholarships from top schools. “We play schools against each other at times,” says founder Shawn O’Connor. This past year, he adds, one of his female applicants with a GMAT score of 780 leveraged acceptances from both Wharton and MIT to gain a full ride from Wharton.
Now, consider Vinay Kumar. According to India-based admissions consulting firm MBAdream, Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Business offered Kumar a $70,000 scholarship, but Kumar enrolled at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, which offered $80,000. Kumar’s LinkedIn profile chronicles tech experience, including at a start-up, with work in IT analysis and systems engineering for Tata Consultancy Services in Kolkata, India, and 14 months as VP of operations for Mumbai online-retailing start-up ZEPO Technologies.
As a foreign student, Kumar scores marks among U.S. B-schools seeking diversity in their student bodies, though as an Indian he’s prized less than an African or South American because applicants from those continents are much scarcer. He has relatively broad industry experience. Additionally, according to his LinkedIn profile, he cares about children and poor people, which can’t have hurt.
Also working for Kumar, particularly among eastern U.S. schools seeking to draw applicants away from programs located closer to the west coast tech industry, is his undergraduate degree from private Indian college BMS Institute of Technology in engineering, electronics and communications, which included projects on optical wireless communications.
COME ON, BIG MONEY!
MBAdream on its website hypes Kumar’s scholarship achievement along with those of 13 other Indian students, including Sunil Vidhani, reportedly the recipient of a $60,000 offer from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and $50,000 from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. Vidhani’s Linkedin profile reveals the former Tata Consultancy I.T. analyst and Mphasis software engineer chose Mendoza.
MBA Dream is not alone in making hay of clients’ scholarship achievements. Israel-based Aringo’s website touts $7.5 million in scholarships for clients over the company’s 12-year history, and provides a lengthy list of achievements such as, “Six Aringo clients accepted to Chicago with $140,000 scholarship each” and “Aringo client accepted to Kellogg with $70,000 scholarship.”
Says Aringo owner Shimri Winters, “We have a very high success rate of not only getting scholarships but for getting very high scholarships. When you have something good . . . you brag about it a little bit.”
Applicants, Winters asserts, “have better chances to get a scholarship with someone who’s managed to do this in the past.”