Tuition and fees for the full-time MBA program at the Yale School of Management will total $71,620 for the 2018–19 academic year, a 4.2 percent increase from last year’s figure.

SOM Director of Financial Aid Rebekah Melville said that the school’s MBA program has been around the ninth most expensive in the country over the past few years and that she expects it to remain so following this year’s tuition increase, which is similar to those of the past few years. SOM estimates living expenses for its students — including health insurance, travel expenditure for the SOM’s Global Studies Requirement and other costs of living — to amount to $25,545 for the upcoming academic year, making the total annual cost of attendance $97,165.

The SOM does not offer need-based financial aid, but about one-third of SOM’s student body receives institutional merit-based aid, Melville said. She noted that the total amount of aid provided by the SOM has climbed significantly during the tenure of SOM Dean Edward Snyder’s, rising from less than $2 million to about $8 million now.

According to Acting SOM Dean Anjani Jain, in the last six years, a large portion of the increased tuition revenue that accrued from both the annual tuition increase and the increased class size was used to triple the school’s tuition discount rate, which refers to the scholarship amount as a proportion of total tuition revenue.

“We need to continue increasing our scholarship funds, and this remains an important fundraising priority,” Jain said. “We have reached the intended steady state with respect to MBA program size and plan to continue allocating a portion of the tuition increase to augmenting our scholarship funds.”

Jain also pointed out that the average tuition increase at the SOM during the last several years has been one of the lowest among the SOM’s peer institutions. He added that tuition covers a considerably smaller fraction of the SOM’s annual operating budget compared to most peer institutions.

Four SOM students interviewed by the News were skeptical about the need for a hike in tuition and said that the school’s financial aid system could improve.

“Although the hike will negatively affect current students’ budget and the school’s overall attractiveness for admitted students, I believe it to be a necessary evil in light of the SOM’s current ambitions and goal to build a top-tier global business school,” said François Halier SOM ’19. “In addition, there seems to be a general trend of tuition hikes across MBA programs in the U.S., so the SOM should not overly suffer from backlash on that. As this tuition hike could likely deter applications from low-income countries, [the] SOM should complement it with targeted scholarships for those geographies and applicants.”

Halier said that first-year students in the full-time MBA program at the SOM were given little prior notice of the tuition bump, which prevented them from debating the matter with the school. According to Halier, the institutional scholarships offered by the SOM only represent approximately 4 percent of the school’s budget, compared to 15 to 20 percent in peer business schools — a fact that could hamper the SOM’s efforts to attract top applicants relative to its peers.

In response to Halier’s criticism, Jain said the annual tuition-setting process does not involve public debates. He noted that a number of websites track MBA tuition trends, and the average annual tuition increase at comparable schools has been about 4.5 percent over the past couple decades. He also added that SOM’s tuition includes the global studies account, which students use to cover the cost of SOM’s Global Studies Requirement for MBA candidates, which is about $5,000 per student and requires out-of-pocket expenses at almost all other schools.

Aashna Gupta SOM ’19 also said that having a larger pool of funds for financial aid programs would incentivize more MBA candidates to choose to attend the SOM over other business schools.

The SOM does have a loan-forgiveness program, under which some students who go on to work in the public or non-profit sectors can receive financial support to repay annual loans they took out to attend the SOM. According to the school’s website, more than 400 SOM alumni benefit from the program. Gupta called the loan forgiveness program a “huge advantage” over other business programs but restated the need for a more robust financial aid program.

Michal Ambroz SOM ’19 said that instituting financial support and scholarships other than loan forgiveness is important for the SOM because the school currently offers loan forgiveness mostly to those who plan to pursue careers in the non-profit sector, thereby limiting the pool of candidates applying to the SOM and reducing student diversity. According to Ambroz, increasing tuition fees without offering competitive financial support may hamper the school’s attempts to boost student diversity, as it may discourage less affluent students from applying.

Marcos Melendez SOM ’19 was less disappointed with the increase in tuition, pointing out that in most schools, including state universities, the standard rate of increase in tuition and fees hovers around 3.5–5 percent for most graduate programs. He also noted that, this year, the SOM has hired new faculty members and expanded the number of Career Development Officers, both of which cost money.

“One could argue that continued increases in the cost of tuition can definitely impact the number of applicants able to afford that education,” Melendez said. “Yet what this can do is to force applicants to save even more before applying to school or apply earlier while looking for scholarships and sponsorship.”

Melendez said he would welcome new measures from the school, such as creating an investment fund that is managed professionally and use its returns to fund more scholarships for talented applicants who may add value to the University and increase the school’s results in terms of job placement. According to Melendez, such a move would in turn increase competition for talent among other business schools and help the SOM attract more applicants.

According to Melville, the SOM’s Office of Financial Aid is taking “a thoughtful approach” to assisting students financially with its “limited but generous” resources.

“We use scholarships to maximize diversity in the class on all fronts, so I would really like to develop more scholarships to help students who offer unique perspectives to the class,” she said. “This could mean a scholarship for people who want to do theatre management and will therefore not make typical post-MBA salaries, people from additional areas of the world or entrepreneurs.”

According to Harvard Business School’s website, the total annual cost for a single student to attend the Harvard Business School is $109,124.

Saumya Malhotra | saumya.malhotra@yale.edu