There has been a lot of talk about the sudden dearth of financing options for international students who would like to attend American MBA programs. Some applicants are questioning whether to apply if they will have no way of paying for the degree. I decided to research the situation and find out just how bad it is.
Several schools have made it clear that they will still be offering no-cosigner loans to international students. For instance, HBS's MBA Admissions Director, Deirdre Leopold, stated outright on her Director's Blog that "International students at HBS will continue to have access to need-based loans without needing to find a US co-signer."
Rose Martinelli, Admissions Director at Chicago Booth, also stated unequivocally in her response (similar to her own blog post): "Chicago Booth is committed to providing financing options for our international students who do not have a US cosigner. I can assure our international students that we will have a new loan program in place by the time students enroll." International applicants considering HBS and Chicago can press onward with renewed optimism.
Rod Garcia, MIT Sloan's Admissions Director, made it clear that Sloan is committed to geographic and economic diversity in the class. Interestingly, Sloan was actually already in talks with other private lenders before Citi ended its Global Assist no-cosigner loan program, putting Sloan ahead of other MBA programs that didn’t anticipate the loan's demise. He expects that the details will be solidified and public by the end of January and that the new arrangements may even be better than the previous ones.
On the other hand, other schools are keeping their cards close to their chests; Stanford and Wharton both would only refer me to their websites. Stanford's site: "Loans offered to international students typically do not need a US co-signer" makes no mention of the sweeping changes in the US credit markets to reassure international applicants. Similarly, Wharton, in its reply to my inquiry, simply states that the school "is exploring a variety of options for making loans available to international students."
Some schools shared particularly appealing information with me. For instance, Tuck will be continuing with its own loan programs – one, DELC, allows a guarantor from outside of the US to guarantee the loan and another, The Tuck 5% loan, requires no co-signer at all. Beth Flye of Kellogg confirmed that Kellogg's no-cosigner loan (Option B of the NU International Loan Program), which it offers to international applicants from the University's own funds, will continue to be offered to all international students who demonstrate the need for it. In contrast, CMU Tepper told me that they haven't offered a no-cosigner loan for years.
In addition to the reassurances that these schools are providing, some schools are increasing the volume of aid they will be offering. Haas notified me that they will be distributing $3.2 million – an increased amount – in aid this year. Tuck has actually doubled the volume of aid they've provided since 2005 and Tepper has doubled the amount of aid it offers over the past five years.
All of the respondents encouraged international MBA applicants to pursue funding and scholarships from within their own countries – from private foundations (for instance, Brazil's Fundacao Estudar and Ling Foundation, Spain's Fundacion Rafael del Pino, La Caixa Scholarship, and Fundacion Ramon Areces, and Mexico's Brockmann Foundation) plus government-sponsored programs that provide loans and financial assistance to students attending graduate programs outside of their home countries.
My research is ongoing, and I hope other programs will provide more information in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime applicants considering applying to HBS, Chicago, Kellogg, Tuck, and MIT can rest assured that their loan options remain open. Applicants to Haas may have a higher chance of receiving a grant covering a good portion of their educations and not requiring repayment, and Tepper applicants are no worse off than they were last year!
If there's one thing that became clear from my research, it's this: the top MBA programs will do whatever necessary to keep a high percentage of international students in their classrooms. As one admissions director told me, "This is keeping the deans awake at night!" Astute international applicants will take advantage of that determination and submit their applications this year while others wait for the smoke to clear.
Jennifer Bloom has been helping Accepted's international clients earn admission to the top MBA programs for the past 10 years. She is available to help you with your MBA application too.