Kellogg | Ms. Kellogg Bound Ideator
GMAT 710, GPA 2.4
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Digital Marketing Analyst
GMAT 710, GPA 3.27
Kellogg | Mr. Hope-I-Get-In
GMAT 720, GPA 3.62
Foster School of Business | Mr. Tesla Gigafactory
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
Stanford GSB | Ms. Business, Tech & Education
GRE 332, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. MBB Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
SDA Bocconi | Mr. Hotel International
GMAT 570, GPA 2.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Career Coach
GRE 292, GPA 3.468
Wharton | Mr. Corporate Monster
GMAT 750, GPA 9.12/10.0
Darden | Mr. Deloitte Dreamer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.13
Columbia | Ms. Cybersecurity
GRE 322, GPA 3.7
Tuck | Mr. Federal Civilian
GMAT 780, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Ms. Lucky Charm
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.15
Cambridge Judge | Mr. Nuclear Manager
GMAT 700, GPA 2.4
London Business School | Ms. Aussie Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Young Entrepreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Ms. Retail Innovator
GMAT 750, GPA 3.84
Harvard | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Geography Techie
GMAT 740, GPA 3.9
INSEAD | Mr. Media Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.65
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Emporio Armani
GMAT 780, GPA 3.03
Wharton | Ms. Female Engineer
GRE 323, GPA 3.5
Darden | Ms. Teaching-To-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.47
Stanford GSB | Mr. Financial Controller
GRE Yet to Take, Target is ~330, GPA 2.5
Kellogg | Mr. 770 Dreamer
GMAT 770, GPA 8.77/10
Ross | Ms. Middle Aged MBA-er
GRE 323, GPA 3.6

MBA Scholarships At Record Levels, With Awards As High As $200K

SCHOLARSHIP OFFERS OFTEN COMPLICATE APPLICANT DECISIONS

Chimni says that one of his clients with multiple $140,000+ scholarships had a $50,000 offer from Yale’s School of Management. “She told Yale that she is interested and Yale upped their offer to $150,000,” he says. Adds White of Menlo Coaching: “I saw UNC Kenan-Flagler make a $96,000 offer to someone who had already declined admission. Emory then matched the offer instantly. This year, I have seen Cornell sending invites to applicants pushing them to apply for the Park Fellowship even after they’ve submitted an application indicating no interest in it.”

Throwing scholarship money into the equation often makes an applicant’s decision that much more complicated. “We had a client, let’s call him Mark, who was accepted to UCLA Anderson with a material scholarship,” adds Abraham. “He was also rejected after an interview at Wharton, which was his first choice. He was very disappointed. Initially, he thought about rejecting Anderson’s offer and re-applying to Wharton and UCLA. However, his consultant persuaded him to think again.

“After his MBA Mark planned to settle in the Los Angeles area, which is where he is from. Accepting UCLA’s offer meant that he would graduate with significantly less debt, start his post-MBA career (and salary) a year earlier, and easily make connections and network in Los Angeles while in business school. He knew that Anderson’s network and brand in Southern California are outstanding. He also realized there is no guarantee that he would be accepted as a reapplicant to Wharton or that UCLA would extend the same offer to him next year.  The scholarship cinched the deal for him. In the end, he enrolled very happily at UCLA.”

THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF THE SCHOLARSHIP GAME

Another Accepted.com client was accepted to Emory with a sizable scholarship and to Darden, which had been the client’s strong first choice, with no funding. “The difference in dollars made her look into Emory more closely,” adds Abraham. “She realized that she can accomplish her goals at Emory at a materially lower cost. She is currently leaning toward accepting Emory’s offer.”

Scholarships can also have unintended consequences. “We have a client who was accepted to Booth with a large scholarship and to Wharton with a smaller scholarship,” says Abraham. “She hasn’t yet decided where she’s going to attend because she decided to submit a round two application to HBS. The acceptances with scholarship money gave her the confidence to try for Harvard.”

And grants can have influence over candidates who might have been sponsored by their employers for an MBA. “Scholarships impact decisions around specific schools but also whether or not to accept funding from pre-MBA employers,” believes Aitken of MBA Prep School. “Increasingly I’ve seen applicants view scholarships as offering freedom to ‘escape’ the safety of pre-MBA employers and enable talented applicants to more boldly pursue their career goals and dreams.”

‘FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF MBA STUDENTS, AFFORDABILITY IS ON THEIR MIND’

That’s also a positive benefit to the scholarship game, but it really comes down to something more simple: affordability. Darden Dean Beardsley discounts the thought that applicants should choose an MBA program solely on the basis of how much money a school will give them. “It is not and should not be a bidding war,” he says. “Fit, quality of education and career outcomes matter too. Some applicants have no financial need and simply want to attend the highest-ranked school they can get into. But for the vast majority, affordability is on their mind.  Scholarships are a signal that you are willing to invest in someone’s future.”

THE MBA SCHOLARSHIP GAME SERIES:

The Often Frenzied Pursuit Of The Best Students

The Bottom Line: MBA Scholarships At Top Business Schools

Show Me The Money: How A Scholarship Committee Decides

What Kinds Of Students Win The Scholarship Game

Why Many Fail To Negotiate Scholarship Offers

How NOT To Haggle For Scholarship Cash

Consultants Hype MBA Scholarship Awards To Clients

How A Scholarship Can Transform A Life

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.