It’s no secret that MBA programs can be expensive, the average cost of a top MBA program in 2022 is $189,340, according to the BusinessBecause Cost of MBA report 2022.
Applying for a scholarship is a great way to cut the cost of your degree. Scholarships can cover anywhere from partial amounts to full tuition fees and there are many needs-based and merit-based scholarships available.
There are lots of ways to boost your scholarship potential, but what if your offer is lower than the amount you aimed for?
Reaching out to the school and negotiating for higher financial aid can go a long way and could be the difference between attending your top choice school.
Here’s how to negotiate your MBA scholarship.
For expert tips on how to improve your MBA scholarship chances, download our BusinessBecause MBA Scholarships Guide | 5 Ways To Boost Your MBA Scholarship Potential
Be authentic when negotiating your MBA scholarship
When reaching out to business schools to negotiate your scholarship offer, it’s important to show that you are serious about your commitment and desire to go to that school.
“If you’ve been lucky enough to receive scholarships for multiple programs, your approach for negotiating should be targeted and specific,” says Melody Jones, co-founder of Vantage Point MBA Consulting.
As in your original scholarship application, your request should reiterate how the program aligns with your career goals. You may also consider explaining why you are applying for extra funding, if your financial situation has changed making it more difficult to fund your degree, for example.
It’s also a good idea to show any efforts that you have made to improve your application to the school, perhaps by actively participating in its community or by increasing your GMAT score.
Being polite, concise, and authentic is crucial to negotiating your MBA scholarship.
YouTube: How Are MBA Scholarship Decisions Made?
Follow the correct process
Each school may have a different process for accepting additional scholarship requests so make sure to research the correct procedures at each of your target schools.
You might think that the people you need to negotiate with are in the admissions department, but there’s a high chance they’re actually part of the financial aid department. Ring the department and ask to make sure.
Also, while it’s very important not to be pushy, don’t be afraid to follow up especially if something changes that could enhance your case.
Leverage your scholarship offers from competing business schools
Providing a scholarship offer letter from a competing institution can be a good way to show that you’re a desirable talent and encourage your target business school to raise the stakes.
“If you got into other programs that offered you financial aid, tell your top choice that you would love to attend if it made more financial sense,” says Chris Abkarians, co-founder of MBA loan negotiator Juno.
This also gives your target school a figure that acts as a benchmark so, if you’re lucky, they can match it or even exceed it.
“While you may have a number in your head that would be the ideal offer, it’s best to keep your request open-ended so as not to sound demanding,” says Melody.
Remember you’ve already received a place at the school, so asking for extra financial aid will not risk your acceptance into the cohort.
“Don’t feel bad about asking – admissions offices have wiggle room set aside for this,” says Chris.
Use MBA loans companies to help you negotiate your funding
Negotiating your MBA scholarship request can be daunting and doesn’t always end in success, so many students may opt for taking out student loans instead.
While loans require you to payback your financial aid, they don’t always have to be expensive. Loans company Juno, founded by Chris Abkarians and Nikhil Agarwal, found a way to use group buying power to negotiate the best student loan rates possible.
Founded during their MBA at Harvard Business School, Chris and Nikhil joined 700 students from 10 business schools to negotiate lower rates for the entire group. The alums say they saved each student around $15,000.
Juno is aimed at supporting US students enrolling in US schools, but there are other companies such as Prodigy Finance who can offer affordable international loans. Founded by Cameron Stevens, an MBA student from INSEAD, the company has supported applicants from more than 130 different countries.
So, if you’ve received a scholarship offer for one of your top schools but you still find yourself over budget, remember that it’s okay to negotiate. Negotiating in the right way could make the difference between going to your top school or having to look elsewhere, so it’s always worth asking!