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MBA scholarships: Seek and you shall find.

MBAs rarely come as a bargain. Fees often start at $50,000 and can easily reach six figured amounts. For many students winning a scholarship is the only way to gain access to an MBA program.

Google search will demonstrate that it is more difficult than you may imagine to find out about who is offering what and the criteria for qualification. This is bad news for those who were hoping to find a comprehensive and easy to use scholarship database which presents exact matches after selecting a few drop-down menus. However, this does not mean that there are no scholarships out there.
Since the beginning of the economic crisis the MBA market was facing rigid changes in the field of lending and business schools have reacted in many ways to fill the funding gap left by the banks. Therefore, discounts on tuition fees or full scholarships have been increasing tremendously over the last year.

Who is eligible?

Often the schemes offered are simply awarded based on criteria such as test scores and income, but there appears to be a growing number that take much more into account.
Warwick Business School for instance is offering two awards for MBA applicants suffering with or affected by long-term disability. The first award will be for a student with a long-term disability applying to the school’s reputable distance-learning programme. The second, uniquely, will be offered to any applicant that has either a disability themselves or has a partner or dependent child with a long-term disability.

Ben Plummer-Powell, director of development and alumni relations at Warwick says, “Our donors wanted to ensure that the opportunity to study the Warwick MBA was available to the most talented minds from around the world. We recognise that finance is not the only barrier to study, but hope that with other support services available as well, disabled applicants will be encouraged to come forward.”

Another example of targeted scholarships is the ‘Indigenous Australian MBA Scholarship’ at Melbourne Business School or the ‘Kofi Annan Scholarship’ for students from developing countries offered by Vlerick Leuven School of Management in Belgium. “The brain drain from developing countries is high,” says Dean Philippe Haspeslagh. “It is therefore a prerequisite for this fellowship that the students go back to their own country.”

Furthermore, there are scholarships at various schools that cater specifically to students from certain countries. The ESADE school in Barcelona for example offers scholarships for applicants from Mexico, Brazil and Columbia.

However, in the US business schools continue to award scholarships mostly merit-based. Kellogg boasts even eight different schemes on their website ranging from $10,000 up to the total tuition for each academic year. Recipients are selected on the basis of academic excellence, demonstrated leadership and quite often community service. Similar scholarship programs can be found at many other US schools like Tuck, MIT or Wharton.

So, in the face of a global lending crisis that is making borrowing for an MBA more difficult than ever, there are avenues open for students from different backgrounds. But you have to look hard and search smart!

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