A new report has accused Stanford’s Business School of lying about how it awards financial aid to make its MBA seem more valuable than other elite schools.
The two-year cost of tuition and expenses for an MBA at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) is about $225,594. But the Stanford MBA has rocketed past Harvard, Yale, and Princeton in the eyes of many potential applicants because its business school graduates command the national highest average starting salaries.
Stanford claims to be doing its part to help with the enormous cost of its programs by providing over half the students with need-based fellowships and non-need-based loans. According to the school’s website, “The Financial Aid Office attempts to be fair and equitable in the distribution of financial aid, especially fellowship aid.”
However, MBA student Adam Allcock discovered in February that 14 terabytes of highly confidential student data from financial aid applications was left on a publicly available server. Allcock informed Stanford’s Director of Financial Aid later in the month about the inappropriate public availability of the data and it was quickly removed.
Using his analysis skills as a former Google management intern and the founder of his own consulting firm, Allcock spent 1,500 hours crunching the “confidential student data detailing the most recent 5,120 financial aid applications from 2,288 students, spanning a seven-year period from 2008-2009 to 2015-2016.”
He published his conclusions in the popular Poets & Quants blog, which provides “consolidated B-school rankings, news and in-depth features, videos, podcasts, two searchable directories and events, with information to make decisions along their journey from pre- to post-MBA.”
According to Allcock’s 88-page report, “The GSB secretly ranks students as to how valuable (or replaceable) they were seen, and awarded financial aid on that basis.” As a result,he says, the GSB has systematically engaged in student aid discrimination by gender and international status, while “lying to their faces for the last 10 to ~25 years.”
Allcock stated that it is not surprising Stanford would funnel more scholarship dollars to women and domestic male applicants, because business schools have been encouraging more women to apply to MBA programs and the number of male “domestic candidates for full-time MBA experiences have been down for several years across the board.”
But he found that Stanford routinely granted fellowship money to students from the financial industry that “had more savings than students who received no scholarship help or less financial support.” Stanford also exercised “systemic biases against international students,” because they already have more foreign applicants than incoming class slots.
Allcock concluded that Stanford biased its effort to “entice the best students with financial backgrounds.” He saw this as a gaming strategy to “achieve the highest starting compensation packages of any MBA program in the world,” since the most lucrative MBA jobs are in private equity, venture capital and hedge funds.