I promised to write this a long time ago and I have been meaning to. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of men and mice. Anyway, here it is – at long last 🙂
When I got my offer from Booth, it didn’t come with any fellowship. Which meant that there was no way I would be able to get to school, not even on a loan because I didn’t have a US cosigner. I immediately wrote to the school asking for a fellowship, and I got the standard response of waiting till acceptances were sent in. So I did then I sent another email and got a similar response. So I decided to take a more direct approach; I wrote a very personal letter explaining why I deserved a fellowship and why I needed one – Booth does not give need-based fellowship so it was necessary to explain how I merited the fellowship. I got an email response within 2 hours that they would see what could be done and a phone call within another hour with an offer.
In hind sight, I would have sent that email earlier, I may have gotten more. My advice is try once, if you don’t get a favorable response, try my direct approach. Hope it works for you.
Even with my fellowship, I couldn’t afford my MBA tuition let alone the associated expenses. So I could predict that a loan was in my immediate future 🙂 Most of the options available were for US students. Luckily, Booth had a school backed loan scheme for international students (I checked before applying). There was another option which I had not even known about at the time I was applying, I got to find out about My initial plan was to wait for both schemes to be available then check which had the lowest effective rate. What I ended up doing was a bit different, I applied for the non-Booth-backed option because it was available earlier and I was in a hurry to sort out my visa. While I was on that application, the ever useful class Facebook group debated on the most financially prudent option (most of the discussion was wayyyyy over my head, but I was in good company and we were all going to business school). And someone was nice enough to summarize the pros & cons of both – so I went with Prodigy Finance (ok, the summary was after I’d submitted my application but I kinda had a feeling it was a better option for me and I still had time to reject the offer if I wasn’t satisfied with it so I figured, I had nothing to lose and time to gain).
The application process was really easy and smooth. All of it was online and I did not need any documents till I had accepted the offer which was great because some of the required documents (read: credit check) would require paying some funds. Also I did not have to pay any application fee before accepting the conditional offer. Which brings me to another important point; the rate and amount being offered is conditional subject to review of the supporting documents you provide in support of your application. Mine did not change but they put a disclaimer that the terms of your loan may change due to the results of that review.
In terms of rates; I think the rates offered by both loan options (Booth FAQS & Prodigy) are great especially considering the rates that I’m used to in my home country. But US citizens get the best deals, almost half what internationals get (even with a very high credit score).
I think I covered everything. If you want to apply for your MBA, find out if the school offers loan options to international students and if private funding options (like prodigy) cater to your school. And if you’re considering cancelling your MBA plans because you do not want to take a loan, well I can’t tell you whether its worth it or not but I’ve always been the kind of person that doesn’t let money stop me from doing what I want to do. I always believe that money is the last & least obstacle and that somehow, I can overcome that.
All the best to everyone. If I missed anything – do let me know in the comments.