Applying: How can I apply

Applications for the 2024 scholarship cycle will open on June 15, 2024 at 12:00 PM GMT and close on June 29, 2024 at 12:00 PM GMT. You can click the Apply Now button to go to the application.

How can I accurately fill the application form

Instructions can be found in this video webinar link.

Who do you serve and how?

We started by serving Nigerians in Nigeria struggling to pay for the cost of applying to graduate schools in North America. The award typically goes to recent college graduates. Starting with the 2021 application cycle, we – in line with our long-term vision – broadened our reach to other developing countries. There were winners from, for example, India and Ghana in the 2021 application round. In 2022 and beyond, we plan to cover even more countries.

We award GRE/GMAT/TOEFL/IELTS scholarships and cover up to four school application fees. This averages about $1,000 per student. Coming up with a thousand US dollars is a steep hill to climb for many students in a developing country.

We also mentor the scholarship recipients and guide them throughout the graduate school application process and beyond. We coach them on how to ace the requisite exams, help edit their application essays such as the Statement of Purpose and Personal History (or Diversity) Statement, guide their school selection process, prepare them for visa interviews, and on how to succeed in graduate school and beyond. Winners of the MT Scholarships get access to a network of world-class professionals that serve as both mentors and role models.

Winning the MT Scholarships grants students with typically no connection the network needed to achieve their dreams.

How do you select your recipients?

The scholarship committee uses several factors in screening the initial application. The goal is to select a diverse, service-oriented group of so-called MT Scholars who have the best chance of thriving through the rigors of a graduate program. The process is not unlike what graduate school admissions committees use in selecting the composition of an incoming class.

We look for academically strong students who are financially incapable of covering the cost of graduate school applications. We also look for candidates who have shown initiative or drive that they can withstand the challenges of living abroad in a rigorous graduate curriculum. We strive for geographic and gender diversity: so females and those from underrepresented regions are particularly encouraged to apply.

Important note: The scholarship is open to all nationalities. And open to all fields of study, not just STEM.

Why did you start the MT scholarships?

When I reflect on my entire US/Canada graduate school application process as a Nigerian living in Nigeria, the most difficult part by far was paying for the required standardized tests such as the GRE and the TOEFL, as well as the application fees to schools. Having a high GPA from college, crafting persuasive application letters, and securing credible references (all part of the application requirements for applying to graduate schools) was difficult, but was nothing compared to living in a third world country and trying to pay online for services based in North America.

The reasons for this difficulty are many, but two stand out: trust and lack. Take trust. Many merchants, including test makers and universities, are loath to accept a credit card payment from Nigeria. Nigerian scams and the legend of the “Nigerian Prince” or “Yahoo Boys” are infamous on the internet, even though the reality is that less than one-tenth of one percent of Nigerians engage in these dubious schemes. The more than 99.9% of Nigerians thus face a deficit of trust when dealing online with those outside of the country. For this reason, even those who have money are not able to spend it to move their lives forward.

Then, there is the issue of lack. More than half of the population of Nigeria lives in extreme poverty, defined as those living on less than $1.90 a day. It was just yesterday, or so it seems, that I was part of this statistic. And the overwhelming majority that are not technically in extreme poverty are barely scraping by. For many, the cost to apply to North American graduate schools would be the biggest single expense of their lives so far. When I did the math, I calculated that, from kindergarten all the way to finishing college, I spent less than $1,000 total on tuition and fees; whereas, the cost of my tests and application fees alone for graduate school were more than $1,000. In other words, I paid more in months during the application process than in over 16 years of education.

I had to rely on a friend of a friend, who also used a friend of a friend, to pay for my tests and application fees. Without this assistance, I wouldn’t have achieved my dream of a North American graduate education – the envy of the world. I am now on a mission to help many navigate these treacherous waters. You can call it paying it forward. This is first reason I started the MT Scholarships.

But there is a second, deeper reason at work that has to do with eradicating poverty. Remittances – funds transferred by immigrants to their home country – is a big source of income to the impoverished, propping up the local economies of developing nations. Without this steady injection of funds to the economy, tensions are more likely to flare, leading to more chaos in societies that are already teetering on the edge. Immigrants with advanced degrees end up with well-paying jobs, and the money they send home helps push back the dark clouds of poverty, one money transfer at a time. What’s more, immigrants that go back to their home countries after a graduate education are in a prime position to lead the academia, industry, and government of the countries they come from, helping to shape the policies that will help kill poverty. I am thus very motivated to facilitate the access of these future leaders to the best educational system in the world.

What are your plans for this program?

We started in 2019 by just paying for the GRE exams because we believe the GRE is a key factor in securing fully funded graduate admissions. In 2020, we expanded the prize to cover not only the GRE but also English language tests such as the TOEFL or IELTS and school application fees. In 2021, we opened these opportunities to non-Nigerians. The impact has been successful. In 2022 and 2023, we increased the award package even further by including additional score reports and upping the number of school application fees by 50% i.e. from 4 to 6.

While the size of the award package has increased, the number of winners have also increased. In 2019, we had 7 winners, in 2023, the number had increased to 56. That’s a 700% growth in number of recipients.

Going forward, we plan to expand the prize even further to cover some hidden fees of applying to graduate school such as the cost of obtaining and certifying applicants’ transcripts which an increasing number of schools are started to require. From the feedback we have received so far, this cost of obtaining and verifying one’s transcripts can be as high as $500. This way, we can completely help the helpless.

Mentoring is an equally – some say even more – important part of the scholarship package. In 2019, the mentoring program was geared more towards ensuring the winners ace their exams. Since 2020, the mentoring program has expanded to include a more holistic approach of assisting MT Scholars over many years covering the time period of their application to graduate schools to thriving in graduate schools to landing that first job after bagging their advanced degrees.

In the future, we will formalize the mentoring program with a view to decouple it from the award. The reason is because there are bright, motivated students with a means to pay for their graduate application package who nonetheless require the type of top-notch mentoring that only MT Scholars currently enjoy. This category of students will not normally qualify for the MT Scholarship because we factor in “indigency” in our selection decision. We have already started this process. For instance, our social media handles are quite active, with almost daily posts about scholarship opportunities and tips to help with graduate school application.

In 2019, we awarded seven scholarships. In 2020, even with the expanded prize package, we awarded 22. In absolute US Dollar terms, this translates to 10 times increase year-on-year. 36 students from three countries were awarded in 2021. 43 in 2022 and 56 in 2023. We hope to keep sustainably growing the scholarship.

How do you define and measure your impact?

Editor’s Note [August 2022]: This answer was from when we were starting out in October 2019. We have decided to leave as-is to compare where we are to what we set out to accomplish.

Impact will be measured on three time horizons: short term, medium term, and longer term.

Short term (1 – 2 years i.e. now – October 2021): Success is creating the infrastructure needed for a lasting organization. This means formally establishing the nonprofit, building a dynamic website that is full of helpful information, automating the application process and formalizing the process of selecting the winners. We will form strategic partnerships with exam bodies, universities, nonprofits, corporate sponsors, etc., to help further our goals.

Medium term (3 – 5 years i.e. October 2021 – October 2024): Success is year-on-year increase in the number of GRE and GMAT scholarships awarded. Success is including TOEFL and school application fees as part of the scholarship package.

Longer term (5+ years, post October 2024): Success is when the beneficiaries of these scholarship complete their studies and start effecting positive change in their societies.

We believe that investment in people yield the best profit. There are already enough discouraging forces – both from without and within – that individuals face; and we want to counter those negative voices that make people achieve less than they are capable of. There’s nothing more beautiful than a fully alive human; we like to see people live fully.

Editor’s Note [June 2024]: We are pleased to see that we have achieved we set five years ago. Our work, of course, is not done, and we look for partnerships to continue increasing our impact.

Why will you be successful?

We cannot fail. We will raise funds year-round, and the amount we raise determines the number of scholarships we can give, so we are at little risk of operating in the red. We will be realistic with our goals and live within our means.

We will also take this mission to foundations and corporate entities for sponsorship. Again, although we will give these fundraising efforts a good try, limited success in them will not jeopardize this enterprise. We spend only the money that we earn. If we can keep rewarding the best students with scholarships and they go on to lead productive lives, we have won.

Where are you located?

The MT Scholarships Inc is a registered California non-profit organization with a 501 ( c ) 3 status with the IRS, this means all donations to the MT Scholarships is 100% tax-deductible. Our business address is 31500 Grape Street Suite 3-199, Lake Elsinore, CA, 92532, United States.

How can you support us?

Click the Donate Now button at the top of the page to give. Every single dollar helps.

About MT Scholarships

When the Michael Taiwo Annual scholarship was advertised on October 1st, 2019, between 100 and 150 applications were expected. Instead, in just a week, over 1,000 applications were received. This is even more remarkable given that no amount was spent on advertising: the announcement was shared by people on social media, WhatsApp groups and word of mouth.

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