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International Students

The reality for international students seeking an MBA in the U.S. is grim. First, the banking industry, under scrutiny and having lost so much money, has tightened its belt.

Unfortunately, international students are feeling the brunt with many of the banks cancelling their loan programs for international students.

CitiAssist Loans, once very popular among international students for its flexibility of not requiring co-signers and the generosity of the loan size, is no more.

Schools are scrambling to find an alternative solution for their students. This has left many international MBA candidates without access to funds for their education.

As if the funding issue wasn’t enough to deter any daring international candidate from applying, the weak economy and stringent immigration policies (restrictive visa guidelines and limited numbers of work permits for international students) are also doing their bit to create near insurmountable challenges for international candidates to achieve their dream of attending a U.S. MBA program.

My two cents is that international candidates should not give up on their dream of attending an American MBA program.

As a former international student who attended a U.S. graduate program many years ago, (especially given that the program offered little scholarship and no opportunity to secure loans), I know that it is possible to find ways to pay for your schooling.

A lot of ingenuity and tenacity can go a long way. Engage the school’s admissions and financial aid professionals to seek opportunities that may not be immediately obvious. Don’t just throw in the towel.

International students will have to have a pragmatic view of the realities ahead and have back up options that may mean attending schools that are closer to home.

However, I would encourage any international applicant to take a long term view of the current situation. Post September 11th, graduates of the class of 2002 were in a panic about finding jobs.

International students found it even harder. Same thing with the visa/work permit issues. The challenges are daunting, yes. But difficult times call for more imagination and perseverance.

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Chioma Isiadinso

Chioma is a former Harvard Business School admissions officer and the CEO and Co-Founder of EXPARTUS, the first MBA admissions consulting company to use personal branding as a key part of the b-school application process. Chioma is the author of The Best Business Schools' Admissions Secrets, one of the leading books on how to successfully navigate the MBA admissions process.

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