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Kellogg | Mr. Defense Contractor
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Early GSB Admits Getting Tuition Breaks Only If Needed

Kirsten Moss, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid for Stanford’s Graduate School of Business

Stanford Graduate School of Business today (Jan. 24) announced that its round one MBA admits are being awarded fellowship grants only on the basis of financial need, in line with school’s earlier publicly disclosed policy that had been secretly violated.

Kirsten Moss, assistant dean of MBA admissions and financial aid, made the announcement in an update to the school’s financial aid practices. “For students matriculating in the fall of 2018, we are awarding fellowships solely on the basis of financial need, and all of our financial aid materials reflect this policy,” she wrote in the update published on the school’s website. “We’ve just completed our first round of admissions decisions and are welcoming members of the Class of 2020 to our community. We want to make sure that these incoming students have a clear understanding of how we will award financial aid during this time of transition.”

The update from Moss follows a significant controversy at Stanford GSB in how the school has allocated financial aid dollars to its MBA students. Dean Jonathan Levin conceded in November that the school had misled thousands of applicants, students and donors into thinking that it only provided fellowships to students based on financial need. But an analysis by a current MBA student who got into the school’s computer systems found that not to be the case.


The student, Adam Allcock, discovered that Stanford had routinely granted fellowship money to students without regard to their financial needs, often favoring admits who were female and those from the financial sector, even though many had more savings than students who received no scholarship help or less financial support. His analysis also found what he termed “systemic biases against international students…This is inconsistent with a need-based financial aid system,” he wrote in a report he provided the dean.

Among other things, the controversy has led to the dismissal of the school’s chief digital officer Ranga Jayaraman last month and embroiled long-time financial aid director Jack Edwards who still has his job (see Stanford Financial Aid Director: ‘Guess I shouldn’t have told you that’)’.

In her statement today, Moss said the school has launched a three-phase initiative to the financial aid process for future classes and will soon hire a full-time staffer to work directly with her to manage the project.

The phases include:

  • Discovery: Collaborate and gather input from students, alumni, faculty, staff, and third-party experts in higher education and financial aid to fully understand the opportunities for improvement, as well as review the MBA financial aid landscape.
  • Design: Develop a clear statement of goals and objectives for allocating financial aid, as well as justification for the process. This process will align financial aid with the values of our institution, needs of our students, and realities of the marketplace.
  • Implementation: Communicate our new process to the community, and build the necessary systems to support it.


“Phase one is already underway, and I’ve been encouraged by our progress thus far,” said Moss. “We are working in partnership with the Student Association to identify the best processes to solicit student feedback and recommendations. We are appointing an advisory group, composed of faculty and alumni, who will provide input during the discovery and design phases. We are interviewing candidates for a new full-time role that will work directly with me to manage the multiple work streams required for this project. I am also establishing weekly office hours, beginning in February, for students who wish to discuss their experiences or perspectives on this issue.

“As Dean Levin has mentioned, it is vital that Stanford GSB fellowship awards are underpinned by a transparent and well-understood process that treats students fairly,” added Moss. I recognize that we have failed to do this and am fully committed to leading this initiative to ensure we meet this goal moving forward. Over the next few months, my objective is to earn your trust by facilitating an open and inclusive dialogue. I look forward to working together with all of you to address this critical issue for Stanford GSB and make our community even stronger.”


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.