Financial Aid FAQ

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Financial Aid

Will I be able to afford a Vassar education?

Yes. If you are accepted at Vassar, the college will meet 100% of your demonstrated financial need. In many cases, a financial aid student's out-of-pocket expenses at Vassar are essentially the same as they would be at a state school.

The true cost of an education, whether at a private college or a state university, is actually much higher than the fees. At a state school, the difference between the true cost and the billed fees is paid by taxpayers. At a private school, the difference is paid by alums who support their colleges by contributing to their annual funds. So in a very real sense, even students whose families can afford to pay the full amount are receiving financial assistance

If you are considering applying to Vassar, don't hesitate because you think your family won't be able to afford it. We are committed to making sure that a Vassar education is affordable to every student we admit. In addition to meeting 100% of all demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, Vassar eliminates or reduces loans in the aid awards of students from low-income families.

Does applying for financial aid limit my chances of admission?

No. For all U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are applying for admission to the freshman class, Vassar adheres to a need-blind policy, which means that 100% of admission decisions for those candidates are made without regard to the student’s financial situation. Admission decisions for non-citizens and transfers are not made on a need-blind basis, but financial need is only one of many factors considered in making these decisions.

As a student on financial aid, would I feel out of place at Vassar?

Absolutely not. The majority of Vassar students receive financial aid. Vassar students come from every type of background imaginable, and plenty of students who are not on financial aid have campus jobs.

Does Vassar offer financial aid to international students?

Yes, Vassar does offer need-based financial aid to international students applying as freshmen and is one of the leading providers of financial assistance to international students among American colleges and universities. Vassar is not need-blind in the evaluation of international students at this time. However, if admitted, Vassar meets 100% of the candidate's demonstrated financial need for all four years. If you wish to be considered for financial aid at any time during your four years at Vassar, you should apply at the time of admission.

Students who are neither US citizens nor permanent residents who wish to be considered for financial aid at any time during their four years at Vassar should apply at the same time that they apply for admission. Since Vassar is not need-blind in the admission of non-US citizens, financial need may be a factor in the evaluation process for admission. Therefore, those admitted without financial aid subsequently would not be eligible to receive Vassar funding during their years at the college, except under the most extreme circumstances (i.e., death of a wage-earning parent, natural disaster, etc.).

If I’m on financial aid, will I be able to study abroad?

Yes. If your application to study abroad is approved, your financial aid package is totally applicable to your study abroad program. To learn more about eligibility requirements for international study, visit the International Programs website.

Is financial aid guaranteed for all four years?

Vassar is committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated need for all admitted students for all four years. However, as is the case at other colleges, you must reapply for financial aid each year. If your financial circumstances change, your financial aid award may very well change. If, for example, you have a younger brother or sister who will now be going to college, you’ll probably receive more financial aid (assuming all the other factors have stayed the same). If, on the other hand, one of your parents who was previously unemployed now has a high-paying job, you will receive less aid.

How is financial aid determined?

“Financial need” is the difference between the cost of education (tuition, room and board, fees, books, personal expenses, and travel) and the family’s expected contribution. How much you and your family are expected to contribute is determined by a standard formula which takes into account your parents’ income and assets, family size, and the number of siblings in college, as well as your summer earnings, savings, and other assets. The formula also takes into account such factors as unusual medical expenses or prolonged unemployment. Once the amount of financial need is determined, a financial aid package is put together to match the need.

What is included in a typical financial aid package?

A financial aid award usually includes a combination of a Vassar scholarship; state, federal, or private grants; a student loan; and a campus job. In addition to meeting 100% of all demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, Vassar eliminates or reduces loans in the aid awards of students from low-income families. Scholarships and grants do not need to be repaid. Low-interest student loans, guaranteed by the federal government, do not have to be repaid until the student graduates and may be repaid over a period of 10 years. Campus jobs (offered through the Student Employment Office with priority placement for financial aid recipients) are available in virtually every office and department on campus. First year students are permitted (according to federal guidelines) to work up to eight hours a week and can expect to earn about $1,750 a year to cover personal expenses. If you receive an offer of financial aid, you can accept all or part of it. You may, for example, accept the scholarships, grants, and loans, but choose not to accept the campus job.

What kinds of jobs are available through the Student Employment Office?

The Student Employment Office places Vassar students in about 1,500 campus jobs that range from shelving books in the library to working as a research assistant for a faculty member.  Financial aid recipients are given first priority in job placement. The rate of pay varies depending on the level of skill required for the job. First year students may work up to eight hours a week; sophomores, up to nine hours; juniors and seniors, up to 10 hours. To learn more, visit the Student Employment Office website.

What kinds of loans are available?

If you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident and you have demonstrated financial need, you may be offered one or more loans as part of your financial aid package. These loans are federally funded (Federal Direct Student Loan, Federal Perkins Loan), have low-interest rates, and need not be repaid until you either graduate or withdraw, at which time you have up to 10 years to repay.

If you are an international student and you have demonstrated financial need, you are eligible for a Vassar College loan. These loans have a variable interest rate and must be repaid within 15 years after graduation or withdrawal.

Learn more about loans and lenders.

What is Vassar’s policy when it comes to financial aid for undocumented students?

Vassar College will give admission applications submitted by undocumented students the same consideration given to any other applications it might receive. Undocumented students who are admitted to Vassar will be offered financial assistance based on demonstrated need following the same procedures Vassar uses to grant aid to accepted international students.

Should I apply for outside scholarships?

Absolutely! Outside scholarships are available from many local, regional, and national organizations, possibly even your parents’ employers. You can register at www.fastweb.com for free and receive a list of scholarships for which you may be eligible.

A note of caution: there are a number of scholarship scams out there that require you to pay money to get money. Visit the Scholarship Scams page to learn more.

If you win an outside scholarship, you are required to inform the Office of Financial Aid. College policy is to allow outside scholarships to reduce the loan portion of a financial aid package prior to reducing Vassar funds.

Does Vassar offer athletic or merit scholarships?

No. Financial aid at Vassar is determined solely on the basis of financial need.

Do I have to maintain a certain grade point average to assure my financial aid?

No. You have to meet the same academic standards required of all Vassar students.

What about books and other expenses?

Our financial aid calculations assume $2,150 a year for books and personal expenses. It’s not difficult to keep personal expenses to a minimum at Vassar because the social life is centered around the residence houses and campus activities. There are about 1,650 campus-wide events (lectures, concerts, plays, parties, etc.) on the Vassar calendar each year, almost all of which are free.

How do I apply for financial aid?

Complete the forms in the Apply section of our website.

What are Vassar’s financial aid codes?

PROFILE: Vassar’s code is 2956.
FAFSA: Vassar’s code is 002895

Will failure to meet the deadlines affect the possibility of receiving aid?

Yes. For the best chance of receiving aid, submit all materials by the deadlines.

When will I be notified of Vassar's financial aid decision?

Early decision candidates will be notified about 10 days after their acceptance. Regular decision candidates will be notified in early April. Transfers will be notified around the middle of May.

I'm a QuestBridge Scholar. Do I qualify for any special financial aid opportunities?

QuestBridge applicants are given all the same considerations as any first year applicant to Vassar College applying for financial aid. We are committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all students offered admission that have also applied for aid. Additional information on Financial Aid and QuestBridge can be found at our QuestBridge FAQ.

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