Feb 28, 2020

Connecting with Tuck About Scholarship Awards

By Luke Anthony Peña

Luke Anthony Peña


Happy February, friends!  February is always an invigorating month for our team; we’re helping our Round 1 admits make their decision to join us at Tuck, preparing to admit Round 2 applicants, encouraging Round 3 applicants to apply, working closely with our Admitted Students Weekend student leadership team, and making plans for our upcoming global recruitment tour in several months.  The common theme?  Getting to know as many of you as well as we possibly can!

Part of getting to know you is understanding and appreciating your plans for financing your MBA.  I have outstanding Financial Aid colleagues who offer excellent advice on financing your time at Tuck, and our alumni have been answering the call to support tomorrow’s wise leaders, generously doubling Tuck’s scholarship budget over the last several years.  I’m here to be open, transparent, and applicant-friendly -- that’s the Tuck way! -- on another financing topic that rarely shows up on blogs like this, but certainly gets discussed by admitted students and admissions influencers in person and online.  I’m here to share thoughts on talking openly about scholarship awards.

Let’s cover a few important points:

Yes, you can talk with Tuck about scholarship awards.  It’s okay to talk about this with us!  My colleagues and I appreciate the magnitude of the investment you are making.  I myself wrestled enormously with financial considerations when deciding to pursue my MBA a decade ago.  I know first-hand that many of you are considering the financial implications long before you apply, and once you are admitted, you have immediate decisions to make about how to invest your precious resources.  If this is causing you to pause on your decision to come to Tuck, tell us -- we’re happy to talk through it with you.

Yes, you can ask for more resources.  Some of you may want us to offer you more than a good conversation.  If this is you, it’s okay to ask for more financial support.  I frequently speak with admitted students who say they are hesitant, embarrassed, or otherwise uncomfortable to make an ask. Make no mistake; my colleagues and I appreciate your thoughtful and considerate approach, traits which we especially value at Tuck. But again, if this consideration impacts your enrollment decision, we’d like to know.  We admitted you because we want you at Tuck, which means we want to know anything that would stand in the way of you saying yes.

Know that we can’t always say yes.  I wish we could!  Alas, in every round, we receive far more scholarship requests than we can accommodate.  By rule of simple math, we have to say “not right now” to many more requests than we would like.  Just like with admission decisions, scholarship decisions are necessarily relative.  We’re considering your individual request, yes, but we have to balance your request against all the others we’ve received.  Please also know that “not right now” doesn’t mean “never.” Our resources change as scholarship recipients accept and decline their awards, and we regularly reconsider requests.  Here’s a tip: a gracious response to an initial “not right now” answer can go a long way towards the possibility of us saying “yes” later on.

The more information you share, the better.  We completely understand these can feel like delicate conversations, and sometimes your financial circumstances are personal. That said, asking for an unspecified amount for an unspecified reason doesn’t do much to help us consider your request.  If there is a specific amount that helps you feel confident saying yes to Tuck, tell us.  If tuition far exceeds the resources available to you, or you have unexpected expenses, or you have other financially attractive options, tell us.  Our goal is always to use discretion to award scholarships to those who, absent funding, might not attend Tuck. So be open with us about how funding helps you attend.

The earlier we know, the better.  An unfortunate but true reality about finite budgets: they run out.  My colleagues and I sometimes receive compelling scholarship requests the day enrollment decisions are due, which we can rarely accommodate because the ask comes too late.  We intend to spend every last dollar of our scholarship budget, and we spend increasingly more of it as time passes.  If you know you need to discuss your scholarship with us, there’s no benefit to delaying the conversation to a later date.  Quite the opposite; the longer you wait, the more likely we will have allocated all our resources elsewhere.

Ask for what you really need.  My colleagues and I very much consider this a conversation and not a negotiation.  This isn’t a volley where you ask high, we counter low, and eventually we all meet in the middle.  I understand the temptation to ask high. However, we strive to build the best Tuck class by stretching our finite budget such that we accommodate as many requests as we can.  The higher your ask, the harder it is to say yes while still accommodating as many of tomorrow’s wise leaders – your future classmates – as possible. Ask for an amount that matches your true financial need, the first time, and raise the chances we can say yes.

The money matters. It isn’t all that matters.  Sometimes, in the midst of this important decision, it’s possible to become narrowly focused only on dollars and cents.  Yes, money matters.  But my colleagues and I hope you'll remind yourself that the financial investment, large as it seems now, is temporary.  Even those of you who take loans will pay these costs for a fraction of the rest of your life.  On the other hand, the benefits of the right MBA experience and community – which you only get once in your life – will not only endure for your entire life, they will grow stronger as you advance in your career.  Think of the MBA as an investment, both in yourself and in the community that best enables you to contribute and thrive.

If you’d like to learn more about scholarships and financing your Tuck MBA, check out our online resources and our blogs on the topic, and reach out to my wonderful Admissions and Financial Aid colleagues.  We look forward to our conversations with you about scholarship, about Tuck, and about your journey to wise, decisive leadership!