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MBA Scholarships: The True Value Of Financial Aid At Business School

As scholarships remove the financial burden of an MBA, more students are pursuing careers with impact. We spoke to students at Duke, Kellogg, INSEAD & Wharton to find out more

Thu May 2 2019

BusinessBecause
The real cost of an MBA, an amalgamated debt of tuition, living expenses, books, international study trips, and potentially commuting to class, can leave graduates with an accrued debt in the region of $100,000-to-$200,000 over a two-year period, sometimes more. Without financial aid, MBA degrees aren't cheap. 

According to US News and World Report’s Best Business Schools MBA ranking 2019, studying an MBA at a top-10 US business school will command a tuition fee alone of over $140,000.

Among the highest are Columbia Business School, who charge $148,800 for their two-year MBA, Harvard Business School, where you’ll pay $146,880 over two years, and Wharton, whose MBA costs $144,600.

Although one-year European MBA degrees are often on the cheaper side, attending a top-ranked business school on the continent will still demand a hefty fee. London Business School’s MBA degree will set you back $107,000 in tuition alone, and INSEAD’s 10-month program costs $96,000.

It’s no surprise then, that post-MBA career reports often show consulting, financial services, and technology as the most popular industry destinations for graduates, as they scramble to find salaries that will enable them to pay back their student debt.

But in MBA Scholarships and financial aid, business schools hold the power to alter the salary-driven dynamic of MBA employment reports. By alleviating the pressure and stress that go in lockstep with such high student debt, MBA graduates are free to pursue careers in more socially conscious, naturally lower paid sectors, or launch their own businesses.

BusinessBecause spoke with four scholarship recipients to find out the true value of financial aid at business school.


Name: Heta Jangla
Business School: INSEAD (MBA ’17)
Occupation: Senior consultant, Dalberg, UK

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Heta Jangla was born and raised in Mumbai, before she moved to Georgia Institute of Technology to study engineering.

She then held a multitude of consulting roles in the US with Deloitte, but after three years she moved back to Mumbai, taking a sabbatical year to work in rural development. She took a job at a social impact...

ting firm, before becoming an investment professional, sourcing deals in agritech, healthcare, artificial intelligence, and insurance technology.  

“I developed a lot of skills that could be applied to much more interesting and useful things to society,” she says.

Heta’s passion for social and economic development comes from her upbringing in India, she explains, where the dichotomy between rich and poor is impossible to ignore. She saw that there was a lot to be done in the development sector, and as an Indian with experience in that area she was led to the INSEAD MBA, seeking an augmentation of her business skills to put into practice.

She was granted an alumni MBA scholarship of €20,000, to cover some of her fees while she was on the program. After she graduated, she says, she was also given an award of €10,000, as part of INSEAD’s Loan Assistance Program.

The Loan Assistance Program is given to MBA graduates of any nationality who showcase a strong desire for community involvement, social engagement, or social enterprise.

"It was definitely helpful,” explains Heta, “and a big motivation to go to INSEAD.”

She also reveals that a lot of her classmates wanted to enter the social and economic development sector, but where hindered by their huge loan repayments, as well as the much lower salaries commanded in the sector compared to high-end consulting or technology jobs.

“The kinds of scholarships that INSEAD provide I think they could be a big factor in having people pursue this kind of career,” Heta says. “It’s something a lot of people are interested in but aren’t really able to [pursue], given the modalities in the way the sector works.”


Find out more about Cranfield School of Management


Name: Kevin Takaoka (pictured)

Business School: Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University (Dual-degree MMM ‘16; combines MBA with MS in Design Innovation, Segal Design Institute)
Occupation: CEO cofounder, UsideU Inc, Japan

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A tech entrepreneur throughout his entire career, Kevin Takaoka launched his own business after graduating from Kellogg School of Management in 2016. He credits the MBA scholarship he received—which covered full-tuition and living expenses—as the reason he was able to pursue his entrepreneurial venture.

“Without the scholarship, I could not have started my business right after graduating. I may not have even thought about applying to the program if I had thought that I had no chance of obtaining it.

“In general, I think that scholarships largely widen the job opportunities, especially for very, very ambitious, driven students,” he explains.

The true value of financial aid at business school, for Kevin, is that he did not hesitate to dedicate himself to the challenges of launching a business, as he didn’t need to worry about the immediate cashflow needs that hinder graduates with huge student debt. He was able to take a year, and prepare fully before launching UsideU Inc.

“I hit on an idea of developing a digital dispatch/digital kiosk service,” he explains. “We work with real estates and service providers [like] travel agencies, and financial institutes to distribute small and efficient digital kiosks that passers-by can casually drop by.”

Kevin was inspired to return to the human service industry after time spent dealing with physical goods at Alibaba—where he was one of the starting members of Alibaba Japan. He admits that the philosophy of Jack Ma influenced his ‘thinking big’.

A self-taught entrepreneur, Kevin explains his decision to enrol in Kellogg School of Management allowed him to step back and learn the business and design skills necessary for UsideU to be a success.

The company’s mission, he says, is to contribute to people’s wellbeing by eliminating the human resource “bottleneck” and supplying high-quality services in our living and working spaces.


Read: Do Scholarships Make MBAs More Inclusive?

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©Joshua McKnight 


Name: Rashie Jain
Business School: The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (MBA ’16; concentrations in Healthcare Management and Entrepreneurial Management)
Occupation: CEO cofounder, Onco.com, India

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Rashie Jain’s father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, and the struggle her mother-in-law went through, she recalls, was “unreal”, “chaotic”. After the diagnosis, they didn’t know who the right doctor for him was, what to expect from treatment, the outcome, how long treatment would be, or the cost; it was an unmitigated nightmare.

“These are patients’ lives in a black box of information,” she says. “Getting information on treatment is impossible.”

After treatment, Rashie’s father-in-law’s doctor told him he could return home, said he was cured, but six months later the cancer came back.

“That’s crazy, in a world where we have more information on what clothes to wear, and food to buy, having to struggle to get the right healthcare; the hospital model does not work,” she laments.

That frustration was the inception point for Onco.com, a company Rashie cofounded with Dr Amit Jotwani, who at the time was an Executive Healthcare MBA student at the Indian School of Business (ISB)—Rashie was introduced to him by a professor at ISB, who was also teaching her on the MBA at Wharton.

Their idea was to democratize information through a B2C platform. A one-stop place where all cancer patients can get information from professional oncologists and plan their journey in a more controlled way.

She was able to launch Onco.com with the help of Wharton’s John M. Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund, which grants graduates who enter the social impact space with up to $20,000 in loan repayments each year—Rashie has been a recipient for the past three years.

“The scholarship has been massive in helping to building this company,” she says. “When I went back to India [after graduating] I had to start from scratch. [It] allowed me to not worry about finances.”

The Wharton network also enabled Rashie to launch the company outside of India. The first few doctors in the US came directly through Wharton, as Rashie had access to the wider University of Pennsylvania alumni network.

The company is now available nationwide in India, as well as outside. 20% of patients, Rashie says, come from the Middle East and African regions—anyone can use the platform, and Rashie’s goal is “to reach every patient out there who has cancer.”


Name: Alejandra Rossi
Business School: Duke’s Fuqua School of Business (MBA '17)
Occupation: Executive director, Socialab, Uruguay

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Hailing from Uruguay, Alejandra Rossi is another MBA graduate with an extensive history of working with startups—a career that caused her to fall in love with the power of entrepreneurship.

Alejandra was convinced that she’d end up studying a master’s of public policy, but when she visited a friend in Durham, she really like the entrepreneurial feel of the city, she says, and ended up changing tack, applying for and enrolling in the MBA program at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

Now, having moved back to her home country after graduating, she is a case in point for the value of MBA scholarships and financial aid.

Alejandra is the executive director of Socialab, a company that finds and helps burgeoning social entrepreneurs, and helps them expand the impact and efficiency of their businesses. That’s her main job, she explains, but she also works for the National Agency for Development, in Uruguay, developing entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural areas of the country.

As if that wasn’t enough, her passion to share the knowledge she’s accrued means she also teaches at a local university.

This is in large part because of the scholarship she received on the Fuqua MBA. “Now I’ve graduated, [it] allowed me to do what I wanted to without so many restrictions,” she says. “Without it, maybe I’d not be able to work in social impact because of the money.”

During the MBA program, she was given a tuition scholarship that covered around 30%, she says. But, after graduating, Alejandra was given one of the Rex and Ellen Adams Loan Assistance Program (LAP) awards, an annual award of up to $8,000 to assist students who are working for eligible non-profit or government organizations in paying back their loans.

That mentality of community, assistance, and entrepreneurship emanates on the Fuqua MBA. “That’s why I love it so much,” Alejandra says. “The culture is how we can be better leaders to serve the rest of the world […] I got a chance to study and see different perspectives of using the tools a business school provides you and apply them to social entrepreneurship.”

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