Not all recipients were awarded full scholarships. 74 % of the programs worldwide providing financial assistance, offered scholarships to candidates, 27% fellowships, 26% reduced tuition, 17% stipends, 14% on-campus work-study programs and 9% school-to-student loan programme. 331 graduate business schools and faculties participated in the survey, 218 of them were based in the US, 60 in Europe, 26 in Asia-Pacific region, 16 in Canada, and 13 elsewhere.

Scholarships are usually given for full-time study.

Generally they come from two sources: business schools themselves or the government. Some corporations also offer awards for employees. To receive such an award, you have to demonstrate the compatibility of your personal career plans with the goals and the strategy of your firm. If it wants to expand its business in the East – say China or India – it would probably be a good idea to apply to an institution specialising in the Eastern markets or provides the possibility of networking with people from this region. Another option, if your personal circumstances allow and the change entailed would not be a problem for you, is to target the good schools in the specific region. As far as corporate scholarships are concerned the candidate’s credentials and the achievements are important. It is also important to obtain favourable references either from your immediate supervisor or manager or from someone higher up in the hierarchy, who has worked with you. Sometimes the scholarship is linked to an obligation to work for the firm for a certain period of time after obtaining the degree.

Be the best or be different

There are two things candidates should pay attention to if they want to be considered for merit-based scholarships. Firstly, they have to make sure that they are amongst the best. One of the most important factors for assessing the quality of candidates is the GMAT score. It is viewed as crucial for the decision on where the limited available funds for financial assistance should go. The mean total score for MBA candidates during 2011 was 541 (555 for men and 516 for women). Aim higher than that. The scores also vary by region. Top GMAT places are taken by Australia and Pacific Islands with a mean score of 595, followed by East and Southeast Asia with 578 and Central and South Asia with 572. The regions at the bottom according to the same indicator are Africa, Middle East and Mexico, Caribbean and Latin America. Above average also means more than the average result for the specific school you are applying to. Undergraduate degree grades also have to be very good or preferably excellent. The importance of the language tests must not be underestimated either.

Secondly, you may not be amongst the best, but you may be different. Schools are looking for diversity in order to increase the quality of the level of participants with cross cultural exchanges and cross cultural backgrounds, gender, education, nationality, goals and even personality or projects. It will be an advantage if you have started your own company, written a book or pioneered in charity activities. Highlight any unique achievements or something that makes you stand out such as an interesting idea that you have realized. There are also nationality or region-based scholarships, financial-need, minorities, gender-based (41 % of all GMAT examinees in testing year 2011 were women), etc. Research all available options to see where you fit.

Quality of preparation is a key

The quality of your preparation is the key factor for the ultimate success of the scholarship application. GMAT results, language tests (where applicable), essays, references and a motivation letter have to show that you are above average if you want to stand a chance for a full award. Apart from that there are partial scholarships, grants and bursaries that are generally easier to obtain.

Candidates for scholarship need to remember that in order to be successful they need to begin preparing as soon as possible. This cannot be stressed enough when you are aiming at a full scholarship. You have to start preparing at least six months before the application deadline. Quality work takes time.

When filling in your application papers make sure you include all relevant information. This is not a formal requirement by you need to be presented in the best light possible, while remaining credible in the eyes of the selection committee. Highlight the strengths which make your profile match the school’s profile. Always have a second person check your application before submitting it to business schools. It could be anyone whom you trust and who is experienced in writing or evaluating texts or works in the academic sphere. There are specialists who provide professional services in the application process in graduate schools and focus mainly on business schools. Theoretically they will be able to point you in the right direction. The help of a coach could also be very useful.

Do not underestimate letters of recommendations, but do not overestimate them either. Recommendations matter in as much as they add value to your overall profile. If your GMAT score is mediocre or another part of the application is weak or unconvincing, a superb reference will not make up for it. Its role is to help the evaluation committee see you from the point of view of someone who is well acquainted with you.

Where can I find information about financial aid?

It is best to search for information directly from the source: your government, NGO scholarships and the schools you are applying for . There is usually comprehensive and detailed information about the options. Go to the MBA page, look for the Financial aid / Scholarships section or subsection. According to the Manchester business school website in 2011 about 40 annual scholarships of 5000, 10,000, and 20,000 pounds sterling are awarded to candidates. Normally a GMAT score of 600 is required for this type of scholarship. In the long list of awards the Manchester Excellence Scholarship stands out. It amounts to 37,400 British pounds and is granted to 2 students every year, depending on their merit and financial need. Amongst the requirements for it is the “potential to become outstanding future alumni ambassador and contribute positively to the School, organizations and communities”.

Check out: Key Factors to Win MBA Scholarship?