The poor get poorer and the rich get better scholarships. Or, at least the future rich get better scholarships.

John Byrne at Fortune writes that despite, or perhaps because of, continuing economic troubles:

Competition for the best and brightest students has never been more intense among the leading business schools.

Among the top 20 MBA programs in the U.S., at least four schools — Yale, Harvard, Northwestern, and UCLA — have increased their average scholarship payouts to students by more than 100% since the 2004-2005 academic year. Yale upped its average scholarship by 150% to $25,000 last year from $10,000 in 2005, while Harvard increased its average scholarships to MBA candidates by 146% to $28,410 from $11,543 five years ago.

Some colleges are using operating money to fund scholarships. Until recently no one did that. Most people just took out loans to pay for business school. But in today’s business climate, people are reluctant to take out huge loans for degrees with less potential to pay off.

And so that means that potential business students can shop around. They don’t have to go to business school. The best candidate can just keep working. And institutions that are serious about only enrolling the top students? Well, they have to pay for them.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer