Scholarships, Grants and Other Funding Options for Minority Students
The most popular way to pay for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is with student loans. But with the top 100 schools costing on average $75,000 for tuition over the program lifespan, according to global rankings by Financial Times, students are best served by finding funding that offsets the cost of graduate school without requiring them to pay anything back. For instance, merit-based scholarships and need-based grants are available from universities, nonprofit organizations, state and federal governments, and other sources. Fellowships, which are commonly tied to philanthropic endeavors such as studies that promote awareness of global issues, are another option and often cover all of the costs associated with earning an MBA. Discover what’s out there, and pick up a few tips on how to finance your MBA.
Scholarships for MBA Students
Earning an MBA is one way to gain a competitive edge in the corporate world. However, MBA programs can cost thousands of dollars. Fortunately, there are numerous scholarships designed to help MBA students pay for grad school. Three of the most popular types of MBA scholarships are:
Need-based awards geared toward promising students who can demonstrate financial need
Merit-based awards for students who excel academically
Targeted awards aimed at increasing the number of minorities and other underrepresented groups in the field
There are various permutations of each type of funding, with applicants of all backgrounds able to find financial awards geared toward them.
MBA scholarships make it possible for students to pursue a degree without incurring debt. General MBA graduate scholarships are available from clubs and organizations, as well as from the schools themselves. General scholarships still have specific guidelines, so students need to research the requirements before applying. Find available MBA scholarships:
Sponsoring Agency: World Trade Club of San Francisco
Regardless of citizenship, the World Trade Club of San Francisco awards this competitive scholarship to graduate students enrolled in an international business field. Recipients are selected based on academic achievement, work experience and statement of purpose.
Sponsoring Agency: Government Finance Officers Association
Students who are pursuing careers in state and local government finance are eligible for this award. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. or Canada and receive a recommendation from the student’s academic advisor or dean of their graduate program.
Former members of Junior Achievement (or JA volunteers) are qualified for this renewable award. Applicants should have two years of full-time work history and be pursuing their MBA full time.
Choosing to enroll in an MBA program is a major decision because graduate school requires a significant time and financial commitment. African-American students can offset expenses by securing scholarships aimed at minorities. Many places offer scholarships to attract minority students to MBA-related careers, including membership organizations, clubs, charitable foundations and religious groups. Find available MBA scholarships:
African American MBA students who are interested in pursuing a career in banking are eligible for this award. They should have a demonstrated record of leadership ability as well as strong academic and professional achievement.
Sponsoring Agency: The National Black MBA Association
Amount: $1,000 to $10,000
The mission of the NBMBAA is to increase the number of African Americans who qualify for management positions in business. Applicants must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership potential and be active members of their community.
Dedicated to prepare minority professionals for the finance industry the Toigo Foundation awards 50 or more exceptional minority MBA candidates from a variety of schools. Recipients receive career guidance and support from a mentor.
Asian and Pacific Islander
Students can pursue graduate scholarships offered by clubs and organizations wishing to increase the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders in advanced business-related professions. Find available MBA scholarships:
Graduate students with a strong leadership and community service experience and contribution are eligible for this award. Applicants must submit a video presentation and essay and participate in an interview.
Sponsoring Agency: Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership
Amount: Up to $4,000 stipend
Asian Pacific students who are American citizens can earn a stipend for working a full-time summer internship in public service in the Washington, D.C. area.
Hispanic and Latinos
In an effort to diversify the workplace, many schools, clubs and organizations offer scholarships for minority students pursuing MBA degrees. For instance, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) strives to help Hispanic and Latino students fund their education. Find available MBA scholarships:
Sponsoring Agency: Association of Latino Professionals for America
Amount: $2,000 to $10,000
Established in 1972, the ALPFA aims to assist Latinos in becoming leaders in the business community. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average and be pursuing a graduate degree in business.
Candidates for this award should be full-time Hispanic/Latino MBA students who want to pursue a career in banking. Applicants should demonstrate leadership as well as academic and professional achievement.
Recipients of this award receive in-person or online prep courses for the GMAT entrance exam to gain admission to an MBA program. Applicants must have two years of work experience and hold a bachelor’s degree from an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business institution.
Native Americans are underrepresented in the workforce in general, not to mention business administration positions. MBA graduate scholarships for Native Americans aim to increase workplace diversity and are available from a variety of clubs, organizations and agencies in the U.S. Find available MBA scholarships:
Sponsoring Agency: American Indian Education Foundation
Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students are eligible for this award. Recipients must be enrolled in six to 18 credit hours of graduate-level classes at an accredited, on-campus graduate school.
Candidates for this award should be full-time MBA students of Native American descent with a strong interest in pursuing a career in banking. They should also have academic and professional achievement and a proven record of leadership.
Designed for first-year female MBA students, this scholarship is awarded both on merit and financial need. Applicants should exemplify leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit and a commitment to giving back to others.
This scholarship aims to increase the number of women participating in MBA programs. In addition to a financial award, recipients also receive mentorship and leadership development opportunities and a lifelong connection with the Forté Foundation community.
Sponsoring Agency: The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation
This scholarship is open to women over 25 years old who hold a bachelor’s degree in business and want to continue their education with a master’s degree.
Tips for Landing MBA Scholarships
Before securing MBA scholarships, students need to apply. And before applying, they need to research. So, where exactly should they start? Getting into an MBA program is the jumping off point for most fruitful scholarship searches, enabling students to get an idea of what they will be asked to pay and what the school can offer in scholarships. This section provides tips for landing a scholarship and funding an MBA degree, from applying to schools to accepting awards.
Apply early With so many highly qualified applicants, MBA scholarships can be competitive, especially those offered by top-choice schools. A student can get a head start on the competition by sending in a completed application as early as possible, which also demonstrates to the school that the student is serious about attending.
Be a great candidate The best way to land an MBA scholarship is to be the candidate schools are looking for. That often means having a high GMAT score, a strong undergraduate GPA and solid work experience. For need-based scholarships, it’s essential for students to prove they qualify for financial aid, typically by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA® )
Get accepted first Once accepted, MBA programs consider all students when awarding scholarships. This means students should take extra caution to ensure they present themselves well in their applications.
Negotiate It’s not unusual for qualified candidates to receive acceptance letters from multiple MBA programs, each with its own scholarship offer. Students may be able to negotiate for more scholarship money from their top choice. It can simply be a matter of saying, “I have other acceptance letters and scholarship offers. Can you do better?”
Research, research, research It’s important for students to research MBA scholarship programs offered by as many sources as possible to get an idea of what qualifications they meet. For instance, there are scholarships for minorities, scholarships from clubs and member organizations, and other options.
Talk to MBA graduates Former students are good sources of information about scholarships. Talking to recent MBA alumni about possible funding opportunities can be helpful. Many schools offer online and in-person information sessions for their MBA programs, which are ideal for networking about potential scholarships, grants and fellowships.
Triple-check all of the requirements Each scholarship has its own guidelines for applicants. Students should make sure they qualify for each specific scholarship before applying. For instance, scholarship guidelines can require recipients to be from a specific ethnic background or be dues-paying members of an organization.
Ask an Expert: Do’s and Don’ts for MBA Scholarships
Eric Sargent Enrollment Advisor, University of Miami’s Online Enrollment Department
Eric Sargent graduated from the University of Virginia in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and is working toward an online MBA. He is an enrollment advisor for the University of Miami’s Online Enrollment Department, where he advises students in the graduate business programs, including the MBA program.
Contact a school advisor directly
Some colleges and universities will not publish all of their scholarships on the school’s website. For instance, we are currently offering MBA scholarships for our upcoming spring semester but are not posting the scholarships online. By contacting their advisors, students can learn about all of the different scholarship options based on their specific background.
Apply to scholarships outside of the university
The school that you are applying to is not the only resource for receiving scholarships. There are some online websites, such as www.fastweb.com, that are devoted to scholarships for students. Students should spend time researching opportunities and applying to as many scholarships as possible.
Apply to as many scholarships as you are eligible for
It is unwise to only apply to one and expect to receive the award. Due to the high level of competition for scholarships, students should apply to as many as they can to increase their chances of securing an award.
Pressure advisors or administrators into awarding a scholarship
Student advisors are always looking to help students and will do their best to give scholarships to as many students as possible. However, if a student does not meet the criteria for a scholarship, then [that student] shouldn’t pursue it any further. It is beyond the scope of staff to bend the rules and give out the award to an ineligible student.
Panic if you do not receive a scholarship that you apply for
Don’t make yourself anxious. There are many options outside of scholarships to help fund an MBA degree. Consider speaking to your employer about tuition reimbursement, or take advantage of federal financial aid.
Pay to apply to a scholarship
You shouldn’t have to pay money to get a scholarship, yet there are many sites that ask students to submit payment before applying. These are usually scams, and students should beware. It’s better to only use reputable sites for a scholarship search. Your advisor can help you locate the sites that have the best reputation.
Other Ways to Finance Your MBA
What if you have trouble landing a scholarship? With the prospect of paying thousands of dollars in tuition looming, you’ll need a solution. Fortunately, scholarships aren’t the only way to pay for an MBA program. In fact, there are many other sources for funding for those who know where to look. Here are several ways for students to finance an MBA that don’t involve scholarships.
Federal Direct and Direct GRAD PLUS Loans are unsubsidized loans that are disbursed into students’ accounts and accrue interest while they attend school. Federal student loans have fixed interest rates, low fees and flexible repayment options. Students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as a first step to obtaining student loans.
Private loans, also called private alternative loans, are offered by private lenders to help students pay for tuition and educational expenses. Private loans are not subsidized and have fixed interest rates and fees. Students qualify for private loans based on their credit score and credit history.
Teaching or research assistantships
Assistantships provide monies to students in return for working as assistants to professors, either in the classroom or in a research capacity. Although this can require heavy oversight of undergraduate students or a lot of time in the library, each school has its own rules regarding assistantships. To get detailed guidelines, students should check with the academic department, research center or administrative office at the schools they are applying to.Corporate fellowships
Corporations often award tuition fellowships to talented students who may excel in an MBA-related career. In return, students agree to work as interns or full-time employees for these corporations after graduation. Fellowships commonly target underrepresented groups as a way of increasing workplace diversity.
Employer reimbursement programs
Various employers offer reimbursement plans as a benefit to their employees. Some pay per course, while others pay a fixed percentage of a student’s total tuition. There may be stipulations requiring students to achieve a certain grade to qualify for reimbursement; information is usually available from the human resources department.
Some students prepare for an MBA program by saving money for years before they get started. Whether it’s by putting away a percentage of each paycheck or taking a part-time job on weekends, saving money during and after an undergraduate program can help cover expenses for an MBA later on.
Additional Scholarship Resources
For students who need additional help financing their MBA education, there are even more resources available online. Scholarship websites allow students to locate MBA scholarships — either by clicking on links or by searching databases with filters that might include school type, major, ethnicity, gender and location. In addition to these scholarship websites, most MBA programs provide a list of external funding resources for students to explore. The following websites provide helpful scholarship resources for MBA students:
The College Board Students can set filters to search MBA scholarships in this database, which includes more than 2,200 programs.
Collegenet.com This site has a searchable database that allows students to find available MBA scholarships to pay for grad school.
Fastweb.com The largest free scholarship search engine requires students to complete a profile to access a database of over 1.5 million scholarships, including MBA scholarships.
Federal Student Aid The U.S. Department of Education publishes this website with information about how to pursue grants, scholarships and fellowships.
Finaid.org By entering the keyword “business,” students can browse a list of scholarships for MBA students.
FindTuition.com Students can search this database of 1.7 million scholarships and explore links to MBA scholarships.
Forte Fellows Program The Forte Fellows Program offers fellowships to women pursuing a full-time, part-time or executive MBA at one of its sponsored business schools. The first step is to submit an MBA application to a participating school. In addition to financial benefits, recipients are exposed to leading companies.
GoodCall This database allows students to filter results by application method, school level, major, ethnicity, gender, location and institution as they search for MBA scholarships.
Hispanic Scholarship Fund The Hispanic Scholarship Fund offers many merit-based scholarships for individuals of Hispanic heritage entering graduate school to study for various degrees, include MBAs.
Peterson’s The graduate scholarship search page of this website allows students to filter results for a list of available MBA scholarships.
Post-9/11 GI Bill This is a VA-administered program for prospective students who have at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service since September 11, 2001, and are still on active duty (or were honorably discharged or discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days). The program pays all tuition and fees for in-state public schools or a portion of the tuition and fees for all other schools. Many colleges and universities that offer MBA degrees participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a component of the GI Bill that makes additional funds available to current and former members of the military.
ProFellow More than 700 fellowships are available on this website. Students can filter the results for MBA-related awards.
SallieMae Scholarships for a variety of college programs, including MBAs, are linked to this searchable database.
Scholars4Dev.com International students can access a list of MBA scholarships, grants and fellowships designed for them.
Scholarshipdb.net MBA students can search this free, comprehensive scholarship database from national and international sources, including universities and research organizations.
Scholarships.com This general scholarship site includes a page of links to individual MBA scholarships.
Unigo Students can access a list of links to individual MBA scholarships at this site.
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