Vassar aims to make a college education affordable and accessible to all admitted students. Through a generous financial aid program, Vassar meets 100% of the full demonstrated need of all matriculated students throughout their four years. At Vassar all financial aid is need based. Academic merit, sports performance, and/or special accomplishments have no impact on a student’s financial aid eligibility.
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 calculated Family Contribution. 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 an institutionally established needs-analysis formula to calculate each family’s contribution. This formula utilizes the data reported on the CSS Profile and is substantiated by a family’s income tax documents. Our goal is to measure each family’s financial strength in a consistent and equitable way. Vassar meets 100% of the financial need as determined by this calculated family contribution.
Vassar also requires U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as part of the aid application process. This form utilizes a government-established needs-analysis formula and serves to determine eligibility for federal financial aid awards only (i.e. Federal Grants, Direct Student Loans, Work Study). The FAFSA does not determine eligibility for Vassar scholarship, nor does Vassar meet need according to the FAFSA determined EFC.
Vassar believes that you and your parents are primarily responsible for the cost of your education, and will financially contribute to the fullest extent possible. The Vassar-calculated family contribution is comprised of two parts:
The parent contribution is determined from an in-depth analysis of parent finances and family circumstances. We begin by calculating the parent’s total income from all sources including any untaxed income (i.e. retirement plan contributions, social security benefits, child support received, pension distributions, etc.). Next allowances are subtracted for nondiscretionary expenses (i.e. federal income taxes, state and local taxes, FICA taxes, medical expenses, child support paid, etc.), cost of living expenses based on family size and location, and savings allowances for educational expenses of pre-college age siblings and parent retirement. The amount that remains is considered available income and a percentage becomes the portion of your parent contribution derived from income. We also calculate your parents’ asset strength which include cash, savings, investments, home equity, equity in other real estate, and business equity. (Retirement savings in designated retirement accounts (i.e. IRA, 401k) are not factored into the calculation.) As with income, we make allowances against the value of assets for emergency fund savings, college savings, etc. Of the amount that remains, a small portion is considered for the parent contribution from assets.
When a family has multiple children enrolled full-time in undergraduate programs simultaneously, Vassar reduces the parent contribution in recognition of the additional expenses. (Refer to our sibling enrollment policy for details.)
In order to accurately calculate the parent contribution, financial information from both biological/adoptive parents is required regardless of their legal status, marital status, or divorce agreement.
The student contribution consists of two parts:
- A standard amount from summer income. This portion of the contribution is set and does not change, regardless of whether a student works or not over the summer.
- 25% of student assets as reported on the CSS Profile.
Vassar uses different types of financial aid awards to meet each student’s demonstrated need. The total sum of these awards is called your financial aid package and is equal to your determined financial need. Although each student receives an individualized package, aid is typically awarded in the following order:
- Federal and state grants (if eligible)
- Work study allowance
- A student loan
The remaining need is met with Vassar scholarship. Your award package may change if you receive scholarships, tuition benefits, etc. from an outside source as the total of all forms of aid cannot exceed your financial need.
If you are offered financial aid, you do not have to accept the entire package. For example, you can accept the scholarship and the work study, and not the loan. However, if you decline any part of the award package, it is up to you and your family to cover the difference.
Your award letter is Vassar’s official communication of the financial aid funds available to you for the academic year. In order to receive an award letter, your aid application must be complete and all documents must be submitted by the advertised deadlines. Award letters are only posted online and accessible to the student. Vassar does not mail paper documents or email copies to parents. It is the student’s responsibility to check their portal regularly and share applicable financial aid information with their parent/guardian.
New students: Newly admitted students can expect to receive their award letter 1–2 days after their admission acceptance has been posted. The award letter will be available on the Admission Portal and the student will receive an email notification when it is available.
Returning students: Award letters for the upcoming academic year are released on a rolling basis beginning in mid-May. All awards are posted on the Financial Aid Portal and the student will receive an email notification when their award is available.
If your family’s circumstances have changed since you completed your financial aid application or there are additional considerations not captured on your CSS Profile, you may request a reconsideration. Factors that Vassar may consider upon appeal are job loss, income fluctuations, high medical expenses not covered by insurance, atypical dependent care costs, expenses related to natural disasters, etc. Appeals must be done in writing via email and should include supporting documentation (i.e. recent tax returns, paid medical invoices, itemized insurance claim or denial letter, etc.).
Vassar makes a reduction to the parent contribution when multiple children are enrolled in college simultaneously, as we recognize that family resources are more limited when there are two or more tuition bills to be paid. To be eligible, your sibling must be enrolled full-time, in their first undergraduate degree program, for the full academic year. Vassar will require you to verify your sibling(s) enrollment status at the beginning of the semester. If your sibling does not enroll and/or graduates, then you no longer qualify for the reduction and your parent contribution will increase significantly (nearly double). You may also see an adjustment if your sibling ends up attending a low-cost institution (i.e. community college). Vassar reserves the right to adjust your award as a result of the enrollment verification at any point during the academic year.
The sibling enrollment reduction does not apply to siblings enrolled as part-time students, in graduate programs, at military service academies, or as current high school students taking college courses. The discount also does not apply to parents enrolled in college.
If you receive a scholarship or tuition benefit from somewhere other than Vassar, your financial aid package will be adjusted to accommodate the amount of outside aid received. You must report any outside scholarships and/or tuition benefits to Vassar via the Outside Scholarship Survey Form.
We allow students to replace the “self-help” portions of their financial aid award with outside scholarships/tuition benefits. Self-help aid includes the federal direct student loan, the work-study allowance, and the standard student contribution from summer earnings. If the total amount of your outside award(s) exceeds the self-help options, then the overage will reduce your Vassar Scholarship.
Scholarship and tuition benefit checks should be mailed to:
Box 8, Student Financial Services
124 Raymond Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
Vassar believes that both biological/adoptive parents have an obligation to contribute to their child’s education, even in the case of divorce or separation. Therefore, Vassar considers the financial information of both biological/adoptive parents regardless of their willingness to pay for educational expenses. A refusal to pay is not considered grounds to exclude a parent’s financial information from our assessment. In extreme cases where the noncustodial parent cannot be reached as the whereabouts are unknown or where contact with the noncustodial parent would place a student in harm, a waiver can be requested by submitting the Noncustodial Parent Waiver Petition form.
If a parent has remarried, we require that the stepparent’s financial information be reported on the CSS Profile and FAFSA as we must review all household resources. However, stepparents are not expected to contribute to the student’s educational expenses. The calculated parent contribution will be prorated based on the biological parent’s resources.
Parent information is required in order to determine financial need and eligibility for Vassar scholarship. However, certain situations may necessitate a waiver of parent information: you are an orphan and have not been legally adopted, are a ward of the court, or have a documented and ongoing unsafe home situation.
The FAFSA has its own criteria for determining dependency status and the requirement of parent information. While some of the criteria overlap with Vassar’s, there are exceptions. Dependency status determined by the FAFSA only impacts federal financial aid award eligibility. It does not influence Vassar’s consideration of your status or Vassar scholarship eligibility.
If you enter Vassar as a dependent student, you will continue to be considered a dependent student for institutional aid purposes until you graduate. However, we understand that family situations are complex and do sometimes change. Vassar will review an appeal for independent student status under extreme circumstances only: death of parents, incarceration, or substantiated abuse. If you have questions, please contact your financial aid counselor.