Financing the GMAT

GMATAt $250, the GMAT is not a cheap test, and when you consider that many students take it two or three times, the fees really add up. If you’re concerned about the cost and believe you can demonstrate extreme financial need, it’s possible to take the GMAT for free (or at least discounted)!

How can you do this? In 2001 GMAC created a voucher program to assist students who might not otherwise be able to take the exam.  GMAC’s CEO David A. Wilson was quoted in Businessweek online that year describing the initial implementation of the voucher program:

“This year, we have created a voucher program on a pilot basis in South Africa. It was the recommendation of the schools in South Africa that rather than offer the vouchers to first-time test takers, we offer them to people who have to retake the test. Those applicants have already indicated a real dedication [to management education]. Schools are distributing the vouchers to support these young people, since the fee is a real barrier — it could be as much as a month’s income there. If the vouchers work, we may expand the program.”

Luckily, the program has indeed stuck around and expanded in the past decade. Today, b-schools all over the world apply for vouchers  via GMAC’s website’s Voucher Form, and must apply for a minimum of 10 at a time.  Prepaid vouchers come in one of the following denominations:

  • $250 ($250 paid by purchaser, $0 paid by candidate)
  • $200 ($200 paid by purchaser, $50 paid by candidate)
  • $150 ($150 paid by purchaser, $100 paid by candidate)
  • $100 ($100 paid by purchaser, $150 paid by candidate)
  • $50 ($50 paid by purchaser, $200 paid by candidate)

The voucher codes are then e-mailed to the schools via an Excel spreadsheet, and it is to the school’s discretion how they award the codes in amounts from $50-$250.  The codes expire within 2 years, and cannot be re-used or redeemed for cash. The good news: schools usually have at least 10 vouchers on hand! The bad news: it can be very competitive to try and obtain one. Students who do obtain a voucher code must apply through their prospective b-school BEFORE registering for the exam, since they will be prompted to enter the code during online registration.

Since voucher awards are at the school’s discretion, each school may have slightly different requirements so make sure you contact the school you are applying to directly.  Since the voucher code is valid for one GMAT exam only, it’s best to wait until you feel you are adequately prepared to take the exam.

GMAC’s website mentions that some scholarship and fellowship organizations are also eligible to give out GMAT vouchers, but (alas) GMAC does not provide a public list of such groups.  Contact GMAC directly at: gmatvouchers@gmac.com to find out more!

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Vivian Kerr is a regular contributor to the Veritas Prep blog, providing advice to help students better prepare for the GMAT and the SAT. 

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