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Top MBA Schools Are On Sale

Across America, business schools are offering cuts in tuition.

The Wall Street Journal reports that top business schools are subsidizing MBA costs by offering millions in scholarships and financial aid to attract young professionals.

“There’s been a real focus on eliminating financial considerations as a barrier for enrollment in recent years,” Luke Peña, director of admissions and financial aid at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, tells The Wall Street Journal.

At Tuck, the scholarship endowment has doubled to $87.6 million since 2004 according to The Wall Street Journal. Tuck scholarships range anywhere from $5,000 to full tuition, which costs $68,910.

That’s just for one year. A two year MBA, at full price, from a top US business school can cost a student roughly $200,000 with living costs included. Luckily, school are increasingly opening their wallets to attract talent. According to data from the Graduate Management Admission Council, 61% of MBA students in 2017 received scholarships based on merit or financial need. In 2014, only 41% earned scholarships.

Leveraging Scholarships

Luke Anthony Peña, head of admissions and financial aid at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business

At an average cost of $200,000, an MBA isn’t cheap. For many students, leveraging financial aid offers can be useful.

Joky Kong is a first-year MBA student at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. Kong tells The Wall Street Journal that he was able to leverage a scholarship from the Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business and have USC match the offer. Kong decided on USC after they matched Tepper’s offer with an additional $5,000 a year in scholarships.

“Once you receive an offer—and especially if you have multiple offers—you have leverage,” Kong tells The Wall Street Journal.

Michelle Clifton is an adviser with EdAssist, a division of Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc., and former associate director of financial aid at Babson College. Clifton tells The Wall Street Journal that leveraging offers and negotiating financial aid is crucial for applicants.

“We encourage all applicants to negotiate, across the board,” Clifton says. “It’s not always going to result in more funding, but sometimes it will, and you don’t know until you ask.”

Dropping Enrollment Leads to More Scholarships and Aid

MBA enrollment has fallen by more than a third since 2010. Yet, the drop in enrollment hasn’t affected top business schools. Instead, falling enrollment has taken a toll on small business schools the most.

“A strong economy and a disruptive political climate is likely contributing to the downward trend in application volumes among smaller U.S. programs this year,” Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO, says in a statement.

To combat dropping enrollment and compete for top applicants, business schools have launched specialized degrees and introduced new scholarships and fellowship packages.

Sue Oldham is executive director of recruiting and admissions at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. Oldham tells The Wall Street Journal that 96 students of this year’s class of 120 receive merit-based scholarships. On average, she says, students can expect to save roughly 68% of the program’s full cost of $58,000 a year.

“If you’re offering $500 in scholarships when tuition is $120,000 for two years, that’s a rounding error,” Oldham tells The Wall Street Journal. “The M.B.A. has the power to literally transform a person’s life and career trajectory. We’re serious about making it affordable for students.”

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Poets & Quants, Harvard Business School, Poets & Quants