Yale graduates now have the option to attend the School of Management for a year at no cost.

Each year, SOM admits a group of college seniors to the Silver Scholars Program, a three-year MBA program that allows recent graduates to pursue a business degree immediately after completing their undergraduate education. In its next admissions cycle, the school will waive the approximately $59,000 annual tuition fee for admitted candidates who graduated from Yale for the first of the program’s three years.

SOM senior associate dean for the full-time MBA program Anjani Jain and SOM director of admissions Bruce DelMonico said the decision is part of the school’s broader effort over the past several years to increase the amount of merit-based aid it awards — scholarship support at SOM has grown from constituting roughly 3 percent of the school’s gross tuition last year to about 9 percent this year.

SOM Professor Barry Nalebuff, who helped found the Silver Scholars program in 2001, said that the program targets seniors with a wide range of intellectual backgrounds, including students majoring in the liberal arts. The program usually attracts between 250 and 300 applicants from colleges across the nation, Jain said, and roughly 10 are admitted each year.

“The options nowadays for someone who is a liberal arts major and doesn’t want to go a Ph.D. can be limited, and those initial jobs are often not particularly rewarding intellectually or financially,” Nalebuff said. “With this program, there are no obligations — you get the first year for free, then you get to earn some money, and you just see what you think about it.”

In the past, Nalebuff said, the program has admitted Yale seniors who majored in art history, film studies and physics, adding that the financially enhanced initiative aims to attract students well-versed in finance and accounting as well as “students who want to take risks and who may not have otherwise considered business school.”

While the typical MBA program at SOM lasts two years, the Silver Scholars program has an interim year between the first and last year of studies, during which candidates pursue an internship or a full-time job. This allows students to earn their third year’s tuition, administrators said, and Jain added that the interim period can be extended to several years if students want to work longer.

Administrators said by making the first year of the program free for Yale graduates, they hope to affirm SOM’s relationship with Yale College and relieve recent graduates from the burden of immediately having to pay for their business degree.

SOM administrators have recognized that the school is behind peer institutions in the amount of financial aid it awards. SOM director of financial aid Rebekah Melville said that since SOM Dean Edward Snyder’s arrival in 2011, the school has been steadily increasing the amount of scholarships it offers.

“Even now we are at the low end, but at least now we are in the range of what other schools are doing,” DelMonico said.

SOM administrators and Nalebuff agreed that the increase in merit-based aid is partly enabled by the school’s imminent move to its new campus on Whitney Avenue, slated to open in January 2014. The move will enable the school to grow its class size, and given that a large portion of scholarship funds comes from tuition, the school will be able to further increase the amount of aid it awards.

SOM does not offer need-based grants.