Anatomy of MBA Brochure – Scholarships & Loans

MBA Brochure Scholarship InformationApplicants get the first taste of the MBA program through Brochures – the condensed information about the program’s history, course structure, cost, funding, testimonials, uniqueness, and statistics. The decision to pursue the marketing team with clarifications and interjections happen after comparing the data in the brochure with inputs from well-meaning alumni and current students. Can you look much closer and understand what these statistics mean?

Critical Eye

“The MBA is a huge investment” sermon might have bored you but most applicants look at MBA from an investment in a 5-year horizon. 27-30 age is a time when some of the major events happen in your life: marriage, family and career switch. There are stories of MBAs in 30s making the switch but for most of you the decision is now. Opportunity cost is looked upon as an investment of time but not many experts talk about the investment of $75,000 or €45,000 per year (for European school). When you are sunk in debt, opportunities are looked with the backdrop of paying back your debt. The risk taking appetite goes down and the true value of an MBA is never fulfilled.


Unless you are self-funded or come from a wealthy family, the first set of information that you should scavenge in a brochure is scholarships. MBAs can have exponential value when the ‘debt’ is taken care off. Most applicants postpone such close evaluation assuming that funding part can be sorted out after admission but release of decisions happen in January, six months down the line.

The risky funding decisions won’t seem that risky when you have an admission letter in your inbox. Irrational borrowing happens during January to April when the clock is ticking and the admission team wants a final answer on offer acceptance. We are not suggesting that you can’t find funding. In fact, several banks require showing the admission letter before even discussing loan plans and interest rates.

Chance of Scholarships

Schools that are transparent about the availability of scholarships will put facts in the brochure like 24% found scholarships last year. By evaluating the class profile from the brochure: number of students, GMAT Score (Median), GPA (Median), and visiting the scholarship page online, you will have a complete understanding on the criteria.

Subtract the number of scholarships that limit your eligibility by nationality. Most top 50 Business Schools have 1-5 scholarships available to all participants.

Getting the actual number of students who availed scholarships for the previous MBA class is vital. In a class of 800 MBAs, if 150 received scholarships then the next data that hints your chance of scholarship is the number of merit and need based scholarships. Most schools will not allow you to have both types of scholarships. Merit based scholarships have higher competition and the two evaluation factors for this scholarship are GMAT Score and GPA. Proven leadership is another factor but Merit scholarships are evaluated mostly based on Academic excellence.

Need based scholarships would most likely require completion of an essay citing why you are qualified for a scholarship compared to other classmates. The well-crafted, often edited to the last letter essay might not win you a scholarship. The students who have received need based scholarships have shared their secret of winning scholarships – “write from your heart”. Don’t follow any formula or strategize according to the inputs of MBA Admission consultants. If they are recommending a strategy used in previous year, it would have been used by several applicants, and you would be unable to differentiate yourselves.

For MBA Application essays, the mantra was “balance confidence with humility”. For Scholarship essays, it’s “Little Despair and Lot Honesty.” Scholarship evaluation committee will reject any application that slightly conveys the idea that you can manage without the scholarship. Convey your motivation for an MBA and explain why this scholarship is essential to avoid any distraction that may arise because of arranging funds in the 1st and 2nd year. Also, explain why ‘Low Debt’ is essential to achieve your post-MBA goals. It would make sense if there were Entrepreneurial or ‘serving non-profit’ goals in the short-term. The data about scholarships provided to students based on nationality would not be easily available but even data based on regions would be handy to evaluate your chances.


Any borrowing that is at least one-half of the school’s total fees requires guarantee: a cosigner or collateral. But if you have worked in Banks, “we need a collateral” is the code for “We don’t trust your school’s brand value or your abilities”. If you are smart, the brochure can be handy in convincing your case. Don’t assume that Bankers or loan approving officers won’t change their position. The employment statistics and post-MBA average salary would assuage the risk of approval for the loan officer.

The Banker is not an expert in evaluating school’s brand value. Most of them have limited knowledge on tier-2 schools and schools beyond rank 15. These schools offer 25% lower salary than the Harvards or the Stanfords but for the loan officer those numbers are insignificant. For them it’s the Debt to Income ratio that influences their decision. The numbers that they add up mostly has to do with the 11-month future cash flow post-MBA. If the 3-Month post-MBA employment percentage were in the mid 80% and above, the officer would think twice before rejecting your application. Your credit score, primarily your ability to pay EMIs on time and your management of credit card are two other data that the loan officer analyzes.

Increase your credit score and start planning for scholarships. Don’t postpone the planning for next year.

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