Do Business School Financial Aid Penalize for Saving?

dawson's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 22

I'm expecting to save a large portion of my paycheck and I'm hoping to maximize my financial aid when I apply to business school. I'm trying to decide whether I should save the money or to allocate it in ways that won't decrease my financial need (ie. max out my retirement accounts). What is the best way to position myself considering my current salary will qualify me for financial aid? Thanks in advance!

Comments (7)

Oct 21, 2013

They're going to see your retirement accounts as well. Only thing I've heard of is making any planned purchases / paying down any existing debt prior to filling out the FAFSA form

Oct 21, 2013

At least for HBS, it seems that everything under an account of 100k is off limits: http://www.hbs.edu/mba/financial-aid/Pages/hbs-fel...

Oct 22, 2013

dawson -

The answer to your question is also going to depend somewhat on how your selected program awards aid. Most scholarships (money that you don't have to pay back) provided by schools are awarded based on merit, meaning they are offered to candidates based on academic excellence, professional aptitude, or outstanding leadership.

HBS and Stanford are really the only remaining top programs that offer financial aid based on students' demonstrated financial needs. Need-based aid may come in the form of a grant (free money) or a low-interest loan. When deciding whether to offer a student need-based aid, the financial aid office typically weighs the your income from previous years; your spouse's financial situation; any assets such as stocks, trust funds or home equity; and other outside funding such as employer assistance. Much of this information is collected via the FAFSA form.

Regarding the FAFSA, there are ways that you can hopefully optimize your financial profile. Even though this website/page (silly forum won't let me list a normal URL - finaidDOTorg slash fafsa slash maximize.phtml) is geared towards parents with kids who are about to go to college, it has some good information that you may be able to leverage.

Regards,
Jon

Jon Fuller
Senior Admissions Counselor
Clear Admit, LLC
215.568.2590

Oct 22, 2013
Jon Fuller - Clear Admit:

HBS and Stanford are really the only remaining top programs that offer financial aid based on students' demonstrated financial needs.

This really isn't true. I'm at a top school and received a needs' based scholarship. It was for people targeting a specific career field who have a financial need. So it is possible although they are probably few and far between, HBS and GSB are not the only schools with need based scholarships.

Oct 23, 2013

Fair enough - I should have said "some of the few" instead of "only". That said, need-based aid is still the exception rather than the rule, and my guess is that the majority of scholarship recipients at your program received a merit-based award rather than a need-based award. The converse is also true at HBS - they still offer a few dozen merit-based scholarship/fellowships each year even though most of their focus is on need-based awards.

Regardless, congrats on getting a scholarship at your program. It's no small feat to get into a top program in the first place, let alone to get any kind of scholarship on top of that.

Regards,
Jon

Jon Fuller
Senior Admissions Counselor
Clear Admit, LLC
215.568.2590

Oct 23, 2013

I was told straight up by an H/S/W alum not to save a dime. He and his significant other both went to the same school. He saved $50k+, she partied hard (AND had better comp) and saved nothing. He's paying sticker and she's getting half off based on need.

Jul 8, 2018
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