Tag Archives: financial aid

5 Tips for Harvard Business School Applicants

Harvard Business School is famously difficult to get into, but don’t let low acceptance rates keep you from applying if this is truly your dream MBA program. In a recent post to the school’s MBA Voices …

HBS application tipsHarvard Business School is famously difficult to get into, but don’t let low acceptance rates keep you from applying if this is truly your dream MBA program. In a recent post to the school’s MBA Voices Blog, six recent or soon-to-be graduates offer their advice for future applicants eager to learn all they can about the HBS admissions process.

Tip 1: Be your authentic self

“Be honest and genuine. I spent time reflecting on what really motivates me and what is most important to me. It may sound straight-forward, but I think it’s really important to have clear direction on what you want to do and how the HBS experience will help you get there. Then make sure that your application really shows your personality and conveys this message of who you are and where you want to go.” Stephanie Marr, MBA 2016

We say: The admissions committee wants to get to know you as a person beyond the resume—don’t write anything just because it seems like something an admissions committee would want to hear.

The trick to fleshing out your human side in the application is to take just a couple of experiences, activities, or themes and expand upon them in a much more detailed and nuanced way. Don’t shy away from your true interests; illustrate how they have helped shape the incredibly dynamic and fascinating person that you are.

Tip 2: Pick your recommenders carefully

“Select recommenders who know you well enough to tell a story that covers your accomplishments and the obstacles you overcame to achieve them. I chose recommenders who had seen me take on responsibility, struggle at times, and adapt to reach my goals. I think this matters much more than having recommenders with a particular job title or connection with HBS.” Sam Travers, MBA 2016

We say: When considering potential references, ask yourself whether the person has worked closely with you, thinks favorably of you, and will put in the time to write a thoughtful, detailed endorsement of your candidacy. If you can’t answer yes to these three requirements, move on until you find the person who fits the bill perfectly. Your chances of admission to the school of your dreams may well depend on it.

Tip 3: Learn more about the generous financial aid options HBS offers

“Trying to figure out how you’re going to afford your Harvard MBA can feel very scary – I definitely remember the sticker shock I felt when I read the expected student budget for the first time. Luckily, there are a lot of ways for you to get support as you decide how you want to finance your time at HBS. Many students, myself included, aren’t able to pay for business school out of their savings and instead utilize a combination of financial aid, scholarships, and loans to get themselves through the program. 

HBS has an incredible need-based financial aid program; over $36 million dollars is awarded to students each year. The administration firmly believes that funding should not be a barrier for anyone to attend business school and they ensure that no student is required to take on too much debt. HBS wants everyone who is admitted to be able to come and therefore the aid is awarded solely based on financial need. Nearly 50% of the class receives HBS Fellowships with the majority of Fellowships in the $30,000-$50,000 range per year.

The average starting salary at graduation is $135,000. Most alums are able to pay back loans in considerably less time than the terms provided. HBS also offers a variety loan forgiveness programs available at graduation for those students plan to pursue a career path in a less lucrative field—for example, there are financing options for graduates heading into social enterprise or pursuing entrepreneurial ventures.” Leslie Moser, MBA 2015

We say: People will tell you that you will find the money you need to go, but we know that thinking about all those zeros can get overwhelming and intimidating. Just know that most students use multiple sources; it’s never too soon to start researching your options; don’t underestimate your costs; and rest assured that schools want you to find funding and will do everything they possibly can to help accepted applicants.

Tip 4: Keep in mind HBS is reapplicant-friendly 

I had been dinged from HBS once and wondered if it was worth applying a second time.  Although uncertain of whether or not I’d be accepted to the program, I wanted to give it another shot.  Fortunately, and likely due to some divine intervention, I was accepted to the program.  I was absolutely elated when I received the good news.” Ryan Hansen, MBA 2017

We say: Many people in b-school right now were dinged the first time they applied. Reapplying shows you are serious about your interest in the MBA program. Make sure your letters of recommendation and your GMAT or GRE scores are rock-solid, and don’t recycle essays from the first time around.

Use the additional essay question to explain what’s changed in your situation to make you a stronger candidate this time around. Make sure to address both professional and personal advancements, but show that you are realistic and self-aware. Revealing your humanity in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws can often help the admissions committee to like you.

Tip 5: Don’t self-select out

“When you’re lifting your finger to hit the submit button, or when you’re walking into your interview, stop thinking about your imperfections and deficiencies. In fact, stop thinking about yourself as an individual. Rather, think of yourself as a piece of something bigger – your potential HBS class. What you do have to offer? What characteristics you bring to the table that will make your section that much better? I bet there are several things about you that no one else can claim, and that’s the good stuff. Tell admissions about them.” Peter Nolan, MBA 2017

“To those thinking about applying to HBS, I encourage you to go for it. Don’t let your own self-doubt sabotage what could be one of the best experiences of your life.”   Terrance Rogers (MBA 2017)

We say: It’s hard not to feel intimidated when you read the admitted student profiles at many of the elite MBA programs, which might include Olympians, successful entrepreneurs, decorated military officers and candidates with outstanding public service experience. However, don’t get psyched out of applying just because you can’t list anything similarly noteworthy on your application.

To stand out in the eyes of the admissions committee, you just need to provide hard proof that you made a difference. Remember, it’s not about the scale of your achievements – rather, it’s the fact that you left indelible footprints.

Image credit: Flickr user Chris Han (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Posted in Application Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

New Scholarship Resource Open to MBA Applicants

Did you know that U.S. student loan debt exceeded $1.3 trillion in 2015? Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how you will pay for it. Interestingly enough, more …

Did you know that U.S. student loan debt exceeded $1.3 trillion in 2015? Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how you will pay for it. Interestingly enough, more than 50% of business school applicants said they would attend a less desirable program if awarded a scholarship, according to SBC’s 2016 annual survey of MBA applicants.

paying for MBA

An MBA must be seen as a long-term investment, and fortunately, schools are committed to working with students to find a solution to financing school through a combination of loans and scholarships.

While MBA programs typically offer fewer scholarships and other types of “free” money than the non-professional forms of graduate education, many online resources can help you to search for a scholarship or fellowship that fits your background and needs.

MBA applicants interested in checking out a variety of potential financial aid options should take a look at ScholarshipOwl, a new platform designed to increase students’ access to scholarships and make the scholarship market more efficient.

The goal of ScholarshipOwl is to provide direct access to the scholarships and create the best opportunities to help students graduate debt-free. The company already has 450,000 users, matching each to 60-70 scholarships on average. In addition, every month the company gives out its own $1,000 scholarship.

One of the ScholarshipOwl’s main advantages is that it matches the student’s profile to the available scholarships, saving time spent sorting through the eligibility requirements. While some scholarships in their system are limited for students accepted into a B.A. program, many are open to enrolled college students and graduate students.

There are many different application processes for financial aid, from demonstrating need to demonstrating merit. Organize the deadlines and submission guidelines to make sure you have a plan to complete the applications, and carefully follow the directions of each scholarship, fellowship or loan you are applying for.

Here are a few tips for individuals planning to attend business school in the near future:

  • Get your finances in order first
  • Think about living slightly below your means before school
  • Save as much as possible
  • Avoid credit card debt
  • Scale back on things you don’t need (including big things like a car if you don’t really need one)

Starting early – about three months before applying – is also really helpful if you’re pursuing scholarships, fellowships or grants. Since scholarships are free money, competition can be fierce, and you’ll benefit from having the extra time to create strong scholarship applications and from knowing the key deadlines so that opportunities don’t pass you by.

You may also be interested in:

Show Me the Money: Top Schools for Scholarships

Pay Less for Your MBA

ROI of the MBA Strong Across Most Tiers

Image credit: Flickr User TaxCredits (CC by 2.0)

Posted in Application Tips, General | Tagged , , , , ,

Stanford GSB Creates New MBA Fellowship

As part of its mission to educate business leaders to solve society’s most pressing problems, the Stanford Graduate School of Business announced it has established a fellowship to provide financial support for up to three students with …

Stanford GSB USA MBA fellowshipAs part of its mission to educate business leaders to solve society’s most pressing problems, the Stanford Graduate School of Business announced it has established a fellowship to provide financial support for up to three students with a passion for generating economic development in underserved regions of the country. In its inaugural year, the Stanford USA MBA Fellowship will focus specifically on the Midwest.

Students applying to the Stanford MBA Program in the first of two rounds in the 2016-2017 academic year will be able to apply for the fellowship. Up to three applicants will be selected to receive up to $160,000 over two academic years to cover tuition and associated fees.

Selection will be evaluated on the basis of general Stanford MBA admission criteria, as well as Fellowship-specific criteria. Applicants must demonstrate both financial necessity and strong ties to at least one of 12 Midwestern states.

Within two years of graduation, the three Fellows will be required to return to the Midwest to work in a professional capacity for at least two years to help contribute to the region’s economic vitality.

To be eligible for the fellowship program, students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Those with dual citizenship must also be citizens of the United States. Candidates will demonstrate strong connections and a commitment to improve the economic development of at least one of the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Defining what’s considered a strong connection to the Midwest includes current residency in one of those states, prior residency for a minimum of three consecutive years in one of those states, or having graduated from high school in the Midwest. Other experiences demonstrating a commitment to the region could also be considered.

Applicants will supply information about their income and assets, including copies of tax returns. Once admitted to the MBA program, Stanford will assess the financial needs of students based on the information provided during the financial aid application process.

Applicants must apply in Round 1, or Round 2 by January 10, 2017. Candidates for Stanford’s MBA program must indicate their interest in the fellowship on their application. Fellows will be selected by May 2017.

You may also be interested in:

Stanford GSB Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips
Stanford GSB Announces Fall 2017 MBA Admission Deadlines

Image credit: Flickr user Carl Wycoff (CC BY 2.0)

Posted in School News | Tagged , , , ,

You’re In…Now How Will You Pay for the MBA?

As MBA applicants look to funding their MBA education, finding and applying for fellowships is an important next step.

paying for MBA

While MBA programs typically offer fewer scholarships and other types of “free” money than the non-professional forms of graduate education, many online resources can help you to search for a scholarship or fellowship that fits your background and needs.

First, check with your target program. Once admitted, your school will present you with a package of information about public and private loans and scholarships. In fact, many schools have comprehensive websites on the topic.

In addition, you may qualify for merit fellowships based on your academic credentials, accomplishments and experience that you have already touched upon in your application. Some business schools also offer additional fellowships that you can apply for directly through the program.

Applying for the Money
The application processes differ for financial aid, from demonstrating need to demonstrating merit. Organize the deadlines and submission guidelines to make sure you have a plan to complete the applications, and carefully follow the directions of each scholarship, fellowship or loan you plan to apply for.

If you need to submit an essay, answer the question as thoroughly and succinctly as you would any other MBA essay.

The value of fellowships/scholarships should be fairly straightforward, though you may emphasize either need or merit in your response, depending upon the direction you plan to take in the argument for your own application.

You’ll need to prove serious financial hardship if going the needs-based route. If you did have difficulties with finances throughout your life and could not attend business school without such assistance, you may have a good argument. If not, you should pursue the merit-based direction.

When providing evidence for need-based aid, give a straightforward explanation of your economic situation and why you would have difficulty paying for your MBA education. Avoid any complaining or blame, and instead focus on what you have accomplished in your life with little resources and how you plan to continue that trajectory as you benefit from greater resources.

With a merit-based argument, you should outline your accomplishments, both academic and professional. Sell yourself as you would in a job interview, and provide solid evidence for your accomplishments as you did in your application essays.

The impact of financial assistance may allow you to pursue activities such as travel and leadership opportunities. In addition, your receipt of aid may benefit the people around you. If you have been involved in your community or with charity, you can certainly describe the impact you have made on the lives of others thus far and how that impact will be even greater with a business education.

Image by: TaxCredits.net (CC BY 2.0)

Posted in Application Tips | Tagged , , , , ,

3 Research Tips for Veterans Applying to Business Schools

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Although some armed forces veterans might not immediately see the correlation between their skills and experiences from the military and those needed to lead …

from soldier to student

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

Although some armed forces veterans might not immediately see the correlation between their skills and experiences from the military and those needed to lead a Fortune 500 company, the truth is that business schools admire the leadership skills, grit and mental agility these applicants typically possess.

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria once wrote an editorial in the Washington Post about how MBA programs should target more veterans, saying, “Business school can be a pathway for integrating our service members back into civilian life, and for finding new ways to engage their intellect, integrity and leadership at home.”

If you are planning a transition from active military service to business school, begin your research by finding out how each of the programs measures up in the following three areas.

1. Explore culture and fit: Every applicant should consider whether the business schools that interest them are good fits as far as class size, teaching method, location and general culture are concerned. A good fit is even more important for veterans, however, since their background is quite different from the majority of candidates. The adjustment from active service to a classroom can be challenging, and having strong outlets of support from the school makes a world of difference.

Once on campus, find out how many students are in the MBA program. Veterans at top-tier business schools typically make up about 5 percent of each incoming class, and too few fellow service men and women may leave students wishing for more peers they can relate to.

Find out what kinds of special programs for veterans exist, and whether the business school has student clubs or organizations created specifically for veterans. Also, look into what kind of personalized academic and career support is available to veterans to help translate their military skills into civilian life.

Reach out to current students for their honest feedback about daily life in the program with details that go beyond what you discover on the school website or by chatting with admissions officers.

2. Consider recruiting efforts: Another telltale sign of a highly military-friendly school is whether it hosts MBA admissions events exclusively to recruit veterans. Examples include the Veteran Prospective Student Day at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; the Veteran’s Ambassadors event at MIT Sloan School of Management; and Military Visit Day at Tuck School of Business. Coming up next week on November 13th, Columbia Business School will host its own Spotlight on: Military in Business Association.

Even if the school you’re thinking about doesn’t host an admissions event specifically for military applicants, you can still get a fair assessment of how eager the program is to recruit veterans by looking at whether it provides support services starting during the application phase – not only once you’re admitted. Also, find out if the school offers deferment flexibility to candidates whose needs may change at the last minute if still on active duty.

3. Look into financial aid: The high cost of business school often deters veteran applicants. Many already have families of their own, and the concern over lost wages while they study cannot be overstated.

However, there are so many financial incentives specifically designed for this group that one’s actual out-of-pocket expense goes down dramatically once you factor in Veterans Affairs benefits, dedicated veterans scholarships, waived application fees and the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Under this program, the federal government matches, dollar for dollar, any financial aid that participating schools commit, essentially providing eligible student veterans with free or reduced-cost tuition. It’s designed to make out-of-state public colleges, private institutions and graduate programs more affordable for veterans.

Schools offer varying levels of support under the Yellow Ribbon Program, so visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website to learn whether the business school has limits on the number of recipients eligible annually – some are unlimited – and to see the exact dollar amount of the maximum school contribution per student, per year.

Stanford Graduate School of Business, for example, has no limits on the number of eligible veterans and contributes $16,500 per student, per year. The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University caps the number at 40 participants and offers $18,000 annually. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, meanwhile, accepts 50 students under the Yellow Ribbon Program and contributes up to $15,000 a year.

“The Yellow Ribbon Program is the best indicator of how much a school truly supports veterans and when you apply it really should be part of your research,” wrote Dave Dauphinais, a Navy veteran who served in special operations for 10 years and is currently enrolled in the joint MBA and MPA program between Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, on Tuck’s website.

“The program is voluntary for schools in the amount of money offered by the school and in the number of veterans they will support so it serves as a telling indicator,” he wrote.

Posted in Application Tips | Tagged , , , , , ,