In an effort to make the School of Management more competitive among admitted students, SOM Dean Edward Snyder has identified scholarships as a fundraising priority.
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As SOM currently pays about 6 percent of the student body’s annual tuition costs through merit-based scholarships — roughly one-third the percentage at its peer institutions — Snyder said he is working to increase the school’s scholarship budget from its current level. Though Snyder said SOM attracts strong applicants, he said a shortage of scholarship funding leads some applicants to choose other schools. Still, directors of financial aid at peer business schools said they did not think variations in scholarship funding would markedly affect admissions yields.
“We have a really strong applicant pool,” Snyder said. “We’re doing very well, but having said that, we’re working out of a scholarship budget that is not very robust.”
Bruce DelMonico, SOM’s director of admissions, said the school’s admissions yield has historically hovered just below 50 percent, which he described as “not dramatically lower” than those of peer business schools. DelMonico said the school naturally attracts highly qualified applicants who have many enrollment choices, and said he could not predict whether increasing scholarship availability would impact the yield.
Even if bolstering scholarship funds may not improve the yield, DelMonico said he and Snyder agree that money “should be taken out of the equation” of an admitted student’s enrollment decision. SOM does not offer need-based financial aid but sets aside roughly $3 million for combined scholarship and loan forgiveness funding, he added.
Joel Getz, SOM senior associate dean for development and alumni relations, said fundraising for scholarships is one of his office’s “top priorities.” The majority of the money needed to construct the school’s new campus — another central fundraising priority — has already been raised, Getz said, allowing SOM to pursue other goals. He added that donors have responded positively to the idea of giving to scholarship funds.
“We’ve already seen the idea resonate with people,” Getz said. “People definitely understand the need for it, as Dean Snyder has prioritized it based on his vast experience as a dean.”
Laurence Mueller, the director of financial aid at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, said improving scholarship availability could help business schools distinguish themselves from similarly ranked peer institutions. But Mueller said he did not think increasing scholarship funding would dramatically impact students’ decisions, particularly for those choosing between schools with large differences in rankings.
Jack Edwards, director of financial aid at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, said in an email Wednesday that roughly half of the school’s student body is on need-based financial aid — the only type the school offers. But he added that business programs can be competitive without offering a strong financial aid program.
“For graduate schools, there typically is an expectation that the student has saved to cover [tuition costs],” Edwards said.
Though SOM does not offer need-based financial aid like Stanford does, DelMonico said the school’s loan-forgiveness program, designed to support recent graduates who enter eligible low-paying careers, is more generous than those of many peer institutions. DelMonico said SOM pioneered loan forgiveness repayment efforts, though he added that many students value up-front scholarships over loan repayment when deciding where to enroll.
SOM tuition for the 2012-’13 academic year is $55,050.