Frequently Asked Questions
Explore Undergraduate Student Financial Aid
Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?
To be considered for need-based financial assistance from Vanderbilt, you must apply/re-apply each year by completing the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Financial Aid PROFILE (undergraduate students only). To be considered for federal, state and institutional financial aid programs, you must apply/re-apply each year by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Deadlines for the applications are listed in our Calendar. Application instructions can be found in our "How to Apply" section from the Financial Aid Web page main menu. Parent and student current year income information and signed copies of federal tax returns must also be sent to the IDOC service. DO NOT SEND TAX RETURNS TO OUR OFFICE.
Will I receive the same financial aid package every year?
While Vanderbilt's costs may increase from year to year, if a family's circumstances (income, assets, family size, number of family members in college, etc.) remain relatively unchanged, students can expect to receive a comparable amount of assistance during the upper-class years.
The minimum contribution we expect from student summer earnings may increase from year to year. Currently the minimum expectation for a freshman student is $1,350. The minimum expectation for a returning student is $1,800. The academic year work expectation that is part of most need-based financial aid awards may increase slightly from year to year. For most students, the expectation is no more than $2,700 for each academic year.
Is there a time limit for receiving Vanderbilt financial aid?
For undergraduate students, a maximum time frame of four years (eight semesters or its equivalent) of full-time enrollment is established for attainment of the baccalaureate degree when determining eligibility for the receipt of funds through institutional financial aid programs. Full-time undergraduate students will be required to progress to sophomore, junior, and senior standing in accordance with the requirements of each of the undergraduate schools.
How is my eligibility for Vanderbilt need-based financial aid calculated?
Eligibility for Vanderbilt need-based financial assistance is determined by subtracting a family's calculated Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from Vanderbilt's estimated Cost of Attendance (COA). The difference is called "demonstrated financial need." The EFC is determined by using Vanderbilt's institutional methodology that utilizes the data collected on the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Financial Aid PROFILE.
How do students apply for federal assistance?
Students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for federal and most state of Tennessee programs. The FAFSA information allows us to determine a student's potential eligibility for certain federal aid programs and helps us to maximize the overall types and amounts of aid that can then be offered to each applicant. Undergraduate students: You may apply for federal financial aid programs through the FAFSA and elect not to complete the CSS PROFILE. However, the majority of financial assistance we offer is through institutional financial aid programs and the PROFILE application is required to be considered for these funds.
My tax return will not be completed by the time I need to complete the FAFSA or PROFILE application. Should I wait to complete the applications or estimate my income?
You should estimate your income, if necessary, in order to complete your financial aid applications by the priority deadline.
What changes may affect my financial aid award?
It is the goal of Vanderbilt to maximize a student's financial aid package and for the student to maintain that same level of assistance for the four year period. At times, however, there are situations that may increase or decrease a family's demonstrated financial need which will affect the overall amount of financial assistance. For example, a family may experience a decrease in demonstrated need if the number of college students in the household decreases. Should the number of college students in the household decrease from two to one, the demonstrated need will typically decrease by 40%. If a parental change in job results in an increase or decrease in annual income, the student's demonstrated need will be impacted. If a student's parent loses their job anytime during the academic year, then a re-evaluation of financial need may be appropriate. The parent or student is encouraged to call the financial aid office to discuss their circumstances.
We would encourage students and families to become familiar with using a family contribution calculator to estimate how their personal circumstance/changes may impact their EFC. See a list of online calculators »
My Financial Aid Notification letter says that my financial aid is contingent upon receipt of additional documents and information such as my parents' federal income tax return. Does this mean my financial aid award could change?
If the additional documentation or information reflects different information than what your family provided to us on the CSS PROFILE or FAFSA, your aid eligibility will be re-evaluated. Your award package may then be changed to reflect the more accurate information.
Does Vanderbilt require my non-custodial parent to complete a financial information application?
Vanderbilt does not automatically require or send a non-custodial application. There may be times when we will request information and documentation from your non-custodial parent. We will send the appropriate forms if this is deemed necessary.
Will Vanderbilt match financial aid packages that I have received from other schools?
Vanderbilt University does not "negotiate" or match financial aid awards from other universities. It may be that another university is offering scholarships based on factors such as merit, and not demonstrated financial need. If, however, the other school has information about your family's financial situation that you did not share with us, or if you have reason to believe we have made an error in our evaluation, please contact us to discuss a possible re-evaluation.
Does Vanderbilt require a separate application for merit-based scholarships?
To be considered for honor or merit-based scholarships, students need to complete both the application for admission and the Vanderbilt Scholarship Application by the appropriate deadline. For additional information, please visit the following website: www.vanderbilt.edu/scholarships.
Do I have to re-apply for the merit-based scholarship I receive?
You do not need to re-apply for merit scholarships. If, however, you have received need-based aid in addition to the merit scholarship, then you must update your financial records by filing renewal financial aid applications (College Scholarship Service PROFILE and Free Application for Federal Student Aid) every year in the spring. Students receiving certain merit scholarships may have to meet academic standards to retain these awards.
Can I apply for financial aid to assist with summer school expenses?
Students attending Vanderbilt are encouraged to work over the summer to assist with their educational expenses. However, if a student wishes to attend the summer sessions, then they must provide their own financial assistance. Federal student loans, parent loans (Federal PLUS Loan) or student alternative loans may be an option. If you are advised by the Dean of your enrolled college to attend a summer session and you have been a need-based financial aid recipient, then need-based funds may be available for you. Students are encouraged to notify our office of their intention to attend summer sessions.
Can I use my financial aid for a study abroad program/semester?
Students receiving aid, who plan to study abroad with an approved Vanderbilt program, may use their financial aid for programs offered during the academic year (fall or spring semester). Students wishing to attend a study abroad program during the summer months and needing financial assistance will have to consider other federal, parent loans or alternative loans.
Your financial aid will credit to your Student Account as will your Vanderbilt Study Abroad program charges. The Office of Student Accounts will refund any aid, beyond the cost of the program, to you. You are responsible for using these funds to pay any additional costs associated with your study abroad program. Before you leave for your study abroad program, the Office of Student Accounts requires a Refund Request Form be completed so that they may issue a refund check.
How will outside scholarships affect my financial aid package?
Historically, many Vanderbilt students have been very successful in obtaining outside scholarships/sources of assistance. These outside scholarships/sources of assistance must be taken into account as part of a student's total need-based aid package and cannot be counted as part of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If an adjustment to a need-based financial aid package is necessary, the outside scholarship will be used first to replace a student's earnings expectation before reducing Vanderbilt need-based assistance. If you are receiving some form of outside scholarship or outside assistance (such as employee tuition assistance or state grants), you should download the Outside Scholarship Form from our website at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/financialaid/docs/outside.pdf.
What if my outside scholarship does not arrive in time to meet the tuition deadline?
Vanderbilt encourages students to apply for outside scholarships and we will add to add these funds to the financial aid package. However, the recipient is responsible for the delivery of funds to the Office of Student Financial Aid. The outside scholarship will be part of the anticipated aid displayed on the first invoice of each semester. However, should the funds not arrive during the first weeks of scheduled classes, a late fee may incur. We encourage families to cover the scholarship amount in order to prevent such late fees. Once the scholarship arrives and is posted to your student account, creating a credit balance, a refund may be requested.
I am going to be a Resident Advisor next year. How will this impact my aid package?
If you are selected to be a Resident Advisor (RA), you will receive financial compensation as part of your RA employment. Such funds are treated as an outside scholarship when determining eligibility for need-based financial assistance. If an adjustment to your need-based financial aid package is necessary, the value of your RA employment will be used first to replace a student's earnings expectation before reducing Vanderbilt need-based assistance. Most students remain eligible for an Unsubsidized Stafford loan.
I want to apply as an Early Decision Admissions Applicant. Can I apply for financial aid at the same time?
Students may complete the CSS PROFILE by the stated deadlines found in our Calendar. An estimated financial aid package will be sent at the time of your ED acceptance. However, it will be necessary for you and your parents to complete the required FAFSA application and submit appropriate signed tax returns in order to verify and accurately determine your eligibility for need-based aid.
What happens to my financial aid if I decide to live off campus?
If you are granted permission to live off campus, Vanderbilt will neither increase nor decrease your financial aid budget. Financial aid will be awarded using a budget that includes the value of a standard on-campus dorm room and the value of a standard meal plan. If you live off campus, aid will be credited to your student account in the normal manner. If your aid exceeds your billable charges, the Office of Student Accounts will refund your credit balance. We suggest you sign up for direct deposit. The earliest any student would receive a refund will be after the Add/Drop period of each semester. Student refunds are based on student eligibility and the completion of all verification requirements.
I have qualified and/or am receiving the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship. Do I need to apply/reapply for this scholarship? Are there deadlines?
In order to receive the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship you must complete the FAFSA. For students entering the fall semester, the deadline is September 1. For students being admitted in the spring semester, the deadline is February 1. The FAFSA must be completed every year to remain eligible.
I want to play sports for Vanderbilt. Are there athletic scholarships?
If you are interested in participating in intercollegiate athletics and have questions regarding scholarship opportunities, please contact the Vanderbilt Athletic Department. Their website, including contact information is: http://www.vucommodores.com/.
What are some jobs available through work study? How much will I be paid?
There are a variety of jobs available on-campus and in the surrounding Nashville area. Wages earned are dependent upon the position obtained and the type of work performed. Students earn a paycheck each pay period worked. Those funds may be saved or applied to living expenses.
Will my bill show my Academic Year Student Contribution?
No. The amount included on your award letter represents the dollar amount you are expected to earn as part of your financial aid award to help meet your demonstrated financial need. It is not an expense for which you are billed and it is not an amount that will be credited directly as payment towards your bill.