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How Chicago Business Schools are Helping Low-Income Students

Chicago schools low income

Business school doesn’t come cheap, which often means that prospective students who could benefit the most from the lucrative career opportunities that come with an MBA either don’t end up at top tier programs or don’t end up applying at all.

The flip side is that MBA programs now more than ever desperately need more diverse perspectives in their classrooms—yet it seems the same ol’ folks end up in these slots every year. Many in academia are woefully ill equipped to meet the challenges of a more diverse and inclusive business landscape but there are a handful of MBA programs that have begun to catch up and take strides to make business educations more accessible to qualified low-income applicants.

The Chicago metro just so happens to be packed to the gills with high-ranking MBAs that take initiative to help promising candidates. Let’s take a deeper dive into four of our favorite Chicago MBA programs that have historically lent a hand to low-income students.

Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management

Situated just above the city limits on Chicago’s North Shore (see: John Hughes movies), the Kellogg School of Management is among the nation’s most coveted MBA programs—and among the most generous too. Kellogg offers a variety of different scholarships based on merit or financial need for newly admitted students and rising second-year students, as well as external scholarship resources through the Office of Fellowships for Graduate Students.


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Director of Admissions Melissa Rapp explains that Kellogg understands that funding a business school education can be challenging. “To help students meet this challenge, a variety of merit scholarships are offered, including diversity scholarships, such as James P. Gorter Scholarship which is awarded to under-represented backgrounds in the Two-Year MBA or MMM program, and academic, professional or special interest scholarships, such as the Health Enterprise Management Scholarship which is awarded to an outstanding student interested in pursuing a career in healthcare.”

UIC’s Liautaud Graduate School of Business

UIC Business provides opportunities to empower graduate students with a dynamic, proven, business education, and an immersive city experience that enhances both quality of life and career opportunities. Many UIC Business students have financial need and the school makes a point to acknowledge its dedicated staff of advisors who help every student navigate the financial aid process. Alanna O’Connor, Assistant Dean for Student Recruitment and Sid Balachandran, Program Director, explains:

“As a state institution we strive to maintain costs for students and are committed to providing a world-class business education at a campus nationally recognized for its diversity. We offer our competitive programming at a more affordable value than some of our peer schools.  The affordability of our program is an important part of providing a high return on investment. Multiple tuition waivers, scholarships, assistantships—teaching or research—are also are available for students who qualify.”

Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business

The Mendoza College of Business walks the walk when it comes to a socially engaged, community-centered vision of business. Part of that mission entails actively courting and supporting stellar applicants who might demonstrate need, particularly women through the Forte fellows program.

“As a sponsor school for the Forte Foundation, Notre Dame is committed to launching women into successful business careers. Forte Fellows are recognized for their academic aptitude, leadership, and future potential,” the school notes. “Forte Fellows are granted special access to the Forte community, including leadership conference access, mentoring and career development opportunities, and network development.”

It also means that students with deep interests in corporate social responsibility might do well to apply to Mendoza. According to Mendoza, it awards more than 65 percent of one-year MBA students merit-based fellowships based on “academic performance, prior work experience, GMAT or GRE scores, leadership potential, letters of recommendation, and each applicant’s personal statement.”

Lake Forest Graduate School of Management

In its commitment to “attract and develop outstanding leaders who change lives,” Lake Forest has a number of MBA-centric fellowships and scholarships:

  • The President’s Scholarship supports “proven leaders who have achieved measurable results, demonstrate a high level of self-awareness and adaptability, and are committed to developing their leadership potential.”
  • The Emerging Leaders scholarship supports students who “demonstrate exceptional leadership potential and show the ability and desire to deliver meaningful results, think innovatively, and gain a heightened level of self-awareness.”
  • The $3,510-7,000 Leadership Scholarship supports students who demonstrate financial need and “strong leadership potential, verbal and written communications skills, intellectual ability, and motivation.”
  • The Yomine Scholarship supports students “are employed in a manufacturing position” who demonstrate financial need
  • The $3,510 Tuition Assistance Grant supports “candidates who are not eligible to receive tuition assistance from their employer.”
  • The Gariano Scholarship supports “women with an undergraduate nursing degree” who demonstrate financial need.

Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business

The Loyola Quinlan School of Business offers two merit-based scholarships to MBA students: the Dean’s Merit Scholarship, which typically covers 1-2 courses, awards “stellar academic performance” and the $1,000-10,000 Graduate Business Student Scholarship, which supports students “who have proven academic success and demonstrated financial need.”

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