SOM boosts financial aid budget

SOM

The School of Management, which currently allocates roughly $3 million of its budget for financial aid, plans to increase its combined scholarship and loan-forgiveness budget to $6.4 million by 2015.

SOM will spend $1.2 million more on student aid in the 2013-’14 academic year than it currently allocates, said Joel Getz, SOM senior associate dean for development and alumni relations. He added that the school has submitted four “reasonably large” funding requests to interested donors, each of which would increase the scholarship fund by over $5 million, in addition to soliciting several other smaller gifts ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. SOM administrators said they hope the additional funds will help the school attract more diverse applicants.

“The first part of the process is to recognize where you stand, and we are behind peer institutions, but we have set goals and have started to move towards them,” SOM Dean Edward Snyder said. “We are just getting started — we need more time.”

Snyder said increasing the school’s financial aid budget has been challenging because tuition rises annually and the SOM student body is increasing as the school prepares to move to its new campus next year — two factors that the target financial aid budget will have to accommodate. SOM’s financial aid budget is currently equivalent to 6 percent of the revenue SOM receives from MBA students’ tuition, which is roughly one-third the percentage at peer schools. SOM Assistant Dean Anjani Jain said Snyder has set an “ambitious” goal to increase this number to 10 percent by 2015.

Bruce DelMonico, director of admissions at SOM, said in a Tuesday email that the school has been at a “competitive disadvantage” due to its historically smaller per capita scholarship budget than its peer institutions. He added that he hopes Snyder’s efforts will help the school eliminate the disadvantage.

Jain said SOM has also evolved its loan-forgiveness program, which waives part of students’ loans if they enter relatively low-paying careers after graduation. He said the program has expanded eligibility to students who pursue careers in benefit corporations, while only students who took jobs in non-profit and governmental organizations were eligible in the past.

SOM administrators said they hope bolstering the financial aid budget will bring a more diverse student body to the school. Snyder said additional scholarship funds have already increased the percentage of underrepresented U.S. minorities at SOM.

Snyder said SOM’s financial aid program shows the school’s commitment to “different elements of diversity,” adding that the school is also looking to strengthen its loan program for international students. SOM currently guarantees international students with financial need 10-year loans, with the school bearing all risks of loan defaults.

SOM currently offers 15 general merit scholarships, five scholarships by area of interest, four diversity scholarships and two scholarships for women.

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