5 Steps for Negotiating Your Offer of MBA Admission (Updated) — Amerasia Consulting Group

By - Apr 4, 06:54 AM Comments [0]

By Adam Hoff, Amerasia Consulting Group

Today's blog post builds on a post I've been working on for years, where I continue to add thought about the art of negotiating your MBA offer of admission.  I've long said that "negotiation" is not what you do when it comes to securing more financial aid from a business school.  The term of art for what you are going to be doing is "asking."  Let me explain and try to add clarity around questions that often come up.

Obviously, any discussion of an offer in this context automatically means we're dealing with some good news: you've been accepted.  So congrats on that!  However, with the news that a b-school wants you to enroll comes the sobering reality that they also want you to *pay* for that privilege.  Sure, offers often come with dollar signs attached, but the amount left in the "you" column is almost always going to be the bigger number.  And that fact tends to bring up the following question: "How can I negotiate my offer?"


Don't think of this as a negotiation, but rather a request: "How can I request more aid?"  That is a much better frame of reference, especially in light of the the advice that follows.  Here's how we typically approach this process:

1. Be respectful.

There are a lot of ways you might be able to get a little more scholarship money from a business school, but we know of one sure way that you WON'T get money and that's if you try to "hardball" them.  We have witnessed countless admits go from months of wishing and hoping to sudden arrogance and a "you better wine and dine me" attitude.  Ditch it.  Immediately.  If you call an admissions office and try to leverage another offer or you give them the "so what can you do to sweeten the deal?" treatment, you will inevitably find yourself on the line with a tired and supremely annoyed member of that school's staff.  Go in polite, grateful, and professional.  Always.  This is not an M&A deal and you are not "negotiating" with anyone.  You are "asking" a business school to grant you more free funding.  Big difference and on that is not lost on the schools themselves, we assure you.

(Note: this is why I often use the word "call" instead of "email" when discussing these things.  There is no rule that says you have to call and for many, there is a big preference to write up their thoughts and send along.  That should work fine and if you are dreading the prospect of getting on the phone, definitely just email.  But I feel like you generally have a better chance of your tone - which would include showing real respect and appreciation - coming through if you are actually speaking to someone.  Who should you be calling or emailing?  Anyone in the admissions office who can be an advocate for you with financial aid.  If you know someone already through your process, call that person.  If you don't, call the person who let you know the good news.  But you want admissions folks fighting this battle for you if possible.)

2. Instead, go for the heartstrings.

Okay, you have your hat in hand and you are determined to avoid acting entitled.  Now what?  Not to be too blunt about it, but in our experience, a good old sob story seems to work best.  So if you have authentic hurdles - and most of us do - to paying over $100K for your MBA, share them.  You don't have to impress anyone at this point with your huge salary or countless offers from heavy hitters; they've already decided they want you to attend their school.  And they are far more likely to try to work something out if they find you nice, respectful, and, yes, a bit needy.  A long-term career goal that eschews riches is probably best, but there are a lot of ways you can be honest about your situation and paint a very realistic picture as to how an extra $20K could make all the difference for you.

Read the rest on our blog: 5 Steps for Negotiating Your Offer of MBA Admission (Updated) — Amerasia Consulting Group

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