Understanding Your Aid Award

Vassar’s financial aid program is need-based, not merit-based. We don’t give scholarships based on achievement in a particular arena (such as sports or music or even academics). We believe that every student we admit is outstanding and has the potential to make a significant contribution to the Vassar community—that’s why we admitted him/her. We determine how much financial aid the student needs by taking the personal and financial information provided by the student and his/her parents and using a nationally recognized formula to assess the relative financial strength of families. Once we’ve calculated the need, we put together a financial aid award to meet 100% of the need.

The financial aid award usually includes grants and scholarships, a loan, and a campus job. In addition to meeting 100% of all demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, Vassar will eliminate or reduce loans in the aid awards of students from low-income families.

Grants and scholarships do not have to be repaid. Loans (usually from one of two federal programs, Stafford or Perkins) are low-interest and can be repaid over a period of 10 years when the student either graduates or leaves the college. A campus job requires 8 to 10 hours a week and generates enough income to cover most of the cost of books, personal expenses, and travel to and from campus.

If you are offered financial aid, you don’t have to accept the whole package. You can accept the scholarship and the loan, and not accept the job, for example. Some students who are worried about acclimating to college choose not to have a job the first year. If you decline part of the package, however, it is up to you and your parents to make up the difference.

A serious student

At Vassar, the average class size is 17, with upper-level course much smaller. All courses and labs are taught by Vassar faculty, all of whom are actively engaged in their own research in addition to teaching.