Most top 30 schools offer free money or what we all know as fellowship. The amount could range from $10,000 to $50,000 per year with top schools offering upwards of $45,000. Most accepted students would receive the $10,000+ annual fellowship fund with no strings attached. Before you go into the process of optimizing your pitch for ‘more’ fellowship or scholarship fund, here are some strategic insights you must have.
1) Relative Competitiveness
Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia and MIT are equally competitive for all top applicants. Not just because of the quality of the class, the curriculum structure and the reputation among recruiters, they are also among the most generous schools when it comes to fellowship funds. However, if you are desperate to get out of the current job function/industry and pursue opportunities in the US, the UK or Europe, in a role that matches your aptitude, an MBA program in the 10 to 30 ranking might have become a feasible option. Understanding where your profile stands among the peers for the school would help you develop the strategy.
Response Time: A big hint is how the admission team responds to your application. If you applied 2 days before the deadline and you get an invite immediately (within a week), the schools value your candidacy over others. Once the interview is completed, and if the offer letter comes to your inbox in the most efficient manner (much before the decision release deadlines), you can be rest assure that you have the upper hand in negotiating for better scholarship/fellowship.
Competitiveness Criteria: GMAT, GPA and Work Achievements in a visible role
Your profile was given preference over others due to superior GMAT, GPA or Work experience, or due to all the factors. However, that should not discourage you from asking for more.
Additional Development (GMAT)
The first additional development that qualifies for a renewed pitch is your GMAT score. Almost all international fellowship sponsored by private entities have academic and post-MBA requirements. If you barely had a GMAT score that matched the class median when you applied but with some clever strategy from our RC and CR guides, you knew how to play the game for 730+ GMAT Score, share your above class median GMAT score in the
“Thank you but..” letter.
Additional Development (Promotion)
We can’t time the promotions, but multinationals have strategies that delay the announcement of promotion until Quarter 4. That means it might coincide with the announcement of your fellowship. Although you might have created an extensive narrative on your ability to solve cross-functional problems, there is no better validation than your employer demonstrating it through increases in salary that typically are associated with a promotion. Mentioning the title of the new role even though you have not taken over it, would reaffirm the school’s belief that you have the potential to be a top 1% performer and carry the brand of the school to diverse markets.
Beyond your Control (GPA)
If the GPA was below the class median by more than 20%, the weakness was apparent. However, your GMAT score and unique work experience compensated the weakness. That doesn’t mean that you don’t should intent in building your profile. Most privately funded scholarships/fellowships requires a competitive GPA. To demonstrate that you are capable of getting 85% and above in an international grading platform apart from the GMAT, share your scores from Wharton Business Foundations (Coursera) or the Harvard Online Core MBA course. Although it is a paid program, showing your competitiveness from a recognized brand would add relevance for your pitch on academic competitiveness.
Note: If you have not planned in taking the course by December, this strategy might not work out as Harvard’s online courses take 10 to 17 weeks and Wharton’s Business Foundation Capstone would take 5 weeks. The results for R2 are published by February 2nd week and negotiations on funding begin by February end.
For R1, start the courses by August.
2) “Thank you but…” Letter
A thank you letter for awarding even the bare minimum ($10,000) fellowship fund would set the tone for the interaction with the Financial Aid office.
Note: Don’t copy the sample. Bring your own unique voice and strengths to the letter.
The letter should be divided into five sections:
1) Thank the selection committee
2) Mention your unique strength and attitude towards education
3) Share the financial constraint that you would have
4) A hint that you might not accept the offer (Be polite!)
5) Conclude by thanking the committee for offering you the Financial Aid
Dear Financial Aid team,
<section 1 – Thank the Selection Committee>
I want to thank the Financial aid team for offering a generous <$amount> as fellowship/scholarship award as part of admission to the <reputed/prestigious/renowned> <name of the full-time MBA program>.
<section 2 - Mention your unique strength and attitude towards education>
As a valedictorian for my graduating class in school <year> and college <year>, I have valued the importance of performing to my best ability. This value has helped me excel as a Finance professional. when the complexity of the deals required more than due diligence. The attention to details and the value I put to perfecting the task would be beneficial for the <school> community as I intend to organize international events as the President of <name of the club>.
<section 3 - Share the financial constraint that you would have>
My parents have been extremely supportive of my ambitions from a young age. Since my siblings would also start their graduate course in <name> from <mention name of the university if it is prestigious>, the financial burden on the family would be <immense/substantial>.
<section 4 – A hint that you might not accept the offer (Be polite!)>
Although I have personally allocated funds that would meet 25% of the tuition fee, any additional support in the form of scholarships or additional fellowship would help me choose <school> Full-time MBA program.
<section 5 - Conclude by thanking the committee for offering you the Financial Aid>
I am grateful that you considered me for the <name if any>/<$10,000> fellowship.
Kindly let me know if I could provide any additional information that would help you in offering additional <fellowship/scholarship>
3) Reconsideration Request
Based on the persuasiveness of your pitch, the school would ask you to official fill out an application. For this process, you need to stitch together the nuances of your profile that stands out from the rest of the applicants.
The format would be most likely be in the form of an essay (300 to 500 words)