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Stanford will pay you to attend its business school — but only if you agree to work in the Midwest

A new fellowship at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, one of the top ranked business schools, covers tuition and fees for MBA students. But the program comes with a catch: Students must be willing to take a job in the Midwest.

Students often select Stanford because they know they’ll get a great education and make contacts in Silicon Valley, where many of them presumably want to work after graduation. But the school has plans to funnel students to more “underserved regions,” where the economy could benefit from an infusion of talent.

“When we look at our country, and we think about different places where there’s still a lot of room for growth and development, the Midwest was a big part of that,” Simone Hill, an assistant director for MBA admissions at Stanford, told Bloomberg.

In its inaugural year, the Stanford USA MBA Fellowship will pay three students approximately $160,000 over two years to attend the university. Within two years of graduating, recipients are required to find work in the Midwest where they will “contribute to the region’s economic development” for at least two years, according to the program website.

To qualify, applicants must demonstrate financial need and have strong ties to the Midwest, which may include current or prior residency or graduation from a high school in the region.

An online summary of costs associated with attending Stanford Graduate School of Business puts tuition and fees over $111,000 per academic year for individuals living off campus. So the fellowship’s financial award might not cut it for low-income students.

The Midwest — which includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, according to the fellowship’s rules of eligibility — might not seem like the hotbed of innovation that Silicon Valley is. But living in the “Silicon Prairie” has plenty of benefits, ranging from competitive salaries to low cost of living.

And the tech boom echoes across the country. Michigan and Illinois were among the five states that added the greatest percentage of tech jobs in the first six months of the year, according to an analysis of US Bureau of Labor Statistics by research firm Dice.

The Stanford program aims to find “people who are interested in bringing everything that they learned back to their region to develop it,” Hill tells Bloomberg.

After this year, Stanford hopes to expand the fellowship by accepting up to eight students and adding other regions. It’s considering the Southwest for the 2017 – 2018 school year.

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