The Aid Process
Vassar awards financial aid exclusively on the basis of demonstrated financial need. "Financial Need" is the difference between the Cost of Attendance (tuition and fees, room and board, books, personal expenses, and travel) and the Expected Family Contribution (what your family can afford to pay). If a family's contribution is determined to be insufficient to cover these costs, then that family demonstrates financial need. Vassar's financial aid professionals use a comprehensive needs-analysis formula to determine each family's expected contribution from the data on their application. This formula serves to measure the family's financial strength in a consistent and equitable way. It takes into account factors such as family size, income, assets, geographic location, number of children in college, etc. It then makes allowances for items such as cost of living, taxes paid, unreimbursed medical expenses, educational costs for other siblings, and unusual circumstances that can restrict the family's ability to pay. Once the family contribution is calculated and the amount of financial need determined, an award package is put together to cover 100% of the need.
Please note that in order to assess each family's full financial picture, we require data from both biological parents regardless of their marital or legal status. Additionally, if parents arbitrarily refuse to provide financial support, the college will not recognize their student as independent and provide supplemental financial aid.
Financial need is reassessed each academic year and may change if a family's circumstances change.
Family (Parent/Student) Contribution
As with most colleges, Vassar assumes that you and your parents are primarily responsible for the cost of your education, and will financially contribute to the fullest extent possible. It is important to understand that the parent contribution represents our evaluation of what parents can afford to absorb in educational costs over time, not just your 4 years at Vassar. Thus parents should plan to fund their contribution through savings, current income, and/or future income (borrowing a loan). The student contribution incorporates a modest amount from your summer work earnings as well as a portion (25%) of your personal assets.
The Financial Aid Award Package
A typical financial aid package consists of the following items: scholarship and grants, a work allowance, and a small loan. Awards are packaged so that the first portion of the student's need is covered with the offer of a work study job and, if appropriate, a federal grant or student loan. All remaining need is met with Vassar scholarship.
If you are offered financial aid, you do not have to accept the entire package. For example, you can accept the scholarship and the loan, and not the job. Some students who are concerned about acclimating to college life choose not to work their first year. However, if you decline part of the award package, it is up to you and your family to cover the difference.
The award letter is your official notification of the financial aid funds you will receive at Vassar for the academic year. So long as you met the advertised application deadline, you can expect to receive notification approximately 1-2 days after your admission acceptance has been posted. Award letters are emailed to students, however a hard copy of your initial letter will be mailed to you as well. Be sure to read your letter and all accompanying information very carefully! It will answer your questions and provide instructions for next steps.
Appealing the Award
If your family's circumstances have changed since you completed your financial aid application, you may request an appeal. Factors that Vassar may consider upon appeal are: job loss, income fluctuations, high medical expenses not covered by insurance, expenses related to natural disasters, etc. Appeals must be done in writing and should include supporting documentation (i.e. recent tax returns, paid medical invoices, etc.).