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Need-based Assistance for Undergraduate Students

Returning Students | Incoming Freshman/Transfer Students

Incoming Freshman/Transfer Students

The typical need-based financial aid award that Vanderbilt offers to eligible first-year undergraduates consists of a combination of grants, scholarships, and employment opportunities/expectations.

Grants and scholarships come from various sources including Vanderbilt, federal, state, and private opportunities. These funds are considered “gift” assistance and do not have to be repaid. Employment opportunities offer students a chance to gain valuable work experience in addition to receiving a paycheck for their hours worked.

Loans are not included in financial aid packages based upon our initiative of replacing need-based loans with additional Vanderbilt scholarship and/or grant (gift) assistance. Under certain conditions and based upon individual family circumstances or desires, however, loans from federal and other sources may ultimately be made available to students upon their request to replace any work expectation in the award or to replace some portion of the family’s expected contribution.

Gift Assistance


Our office is available to answer questions or guide you through the steps in applying for need-based financial assistance. The following steps are designed to help guide you through the application process. Please review our Frequently Asked Questions page for the answers to several questions you might have regarding the application process.

Students are advised to pay close attention to the financial aid calendar. This will help students avoid any deadlines that may be crucial for certain awards as some funds are limited.

Steps in making application for need-based financial assistance:

    1. Submit the College Scholarship Service Financial Aid PROFILE CSS PROFILE, school code 1871, to be considered for Vanderbilt need-based grant assistance.
    2. Submit the 2014-15  Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), school code 003535, to be considered for federal, state and institutional financial aid programs.
    3. Submit copies of your and your parents' 2013 tax documents to IDOC.

If you are accepted for admission, mail to IDOC (College Board's Institutional Documentation Service) signed copies of your and your parents' 2013 Federal Income Tax Returns, Schedules, and W-2 forms, along with any corporate and partnership returns that were submitted to the IRS. If you and/or your parent(s) are not required to file a 2013 Federal Income Tax Return, please download and complete the appropriate Non-Filer Form from the IDOC website. Non-Filer forms, along with all other tax documents, must be sent to IDOC. DO NOT SEND TAX RETURN DOCUMENTS TO OUR OFFICE.

Instructions for Submitting Documents to IDOC: If you are accepted for admission, you will receive a separate email from the IDOC Service, providing instructions on how to submit 2013 federal tax forms. Mail your tax return packet directly to IDOC. If multiple schools to which you are applying participate in IDOC, you only need to submit the information to IDOC once. This information will be sent to all participating schools. 

Determining Eligibility

Eligibility for 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.

In addition to completing the College Scholarship Service PROFILE form, we do require that students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for financial aid other than institutional need-based assistance. 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.

Note: You may apply for federal financial aid programs only 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.

The typical need-based financial aid award that Vanderbilt will offer to eligible undergraduate students will consist of a combination of grants, scholarships, and employment opportunities/expectations.

Grants and scholarships may come from various sources including Vanderbilt, federal, state, and private entities. These funds are considered "gift" assistance and do not have to be repaid. Employment opportunities offer students a chance to gain valuable work experience in addition to receiving a paycheck for their hours worked during the academic year.

Loans will not be included in financial aid packages based upon our new initiative of replacing need-based loans with grant assistance. Under certain conditions and based upon individual family circumstances or desires, however, loans from federal and other sources may ultimately be made available to students upon their request to replace any employment expectation in their award or to replace some portion of their family's expected contribution.

Returning Students

Financial aid is awarded for one academic year only, so students must re-apply each year as described below. To continue receiving assistance, students must maintain satisfactory academic progress toward their degree and maintain minimum grade point average standards.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements for Need-Based Financial Aid: This policy is also published in the current Vanderbilt University Catalog.

Steps in making application for financial assistance:

  • Submit the College Scholarship Service Financial Aid Profile CSS/PROFILE, school code 1871, to be considered for Vanderbilt need-based grant assistance.
  • Submit The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), school code 003535, to be considered for federal, state and institutional financial aid programs. If you received financial aid in the past academic year, you may complete the renewal FAFSA application online.
  • Submit copies of your and your parents' 2013 tax documents to IDOC.

New this Year:   Mail to IDOC (College Board's Institutional Documentation Service) signed copies of your and your parents' 2013 Federal Income Tax Returns, Schedules, and W-2 forms, along with any corporate and partnership returns that were submitted to the IRS. If you and/or your parent(s) are not required to file a 2013 Federal Income Tax Return, please download and complete the appropriate Non-Filer Form from the IDOC website. Non-Filer forms, along with all other tax documents, must be sent to IDOC. DO NOT SEND TAX RETURN DOCUMENTS TO OUR OFFICE.

Instructions for Submitting Documents to IDOC: Shortly after you submit your College Board PROFILE (priority deadline April 15), you will receive a separate email from the IDOC Service, providing instructions on how to submit 2013 federal tax forms. Mail your tax return packet directly to IDOC.

Note: You may apply for federal financial aid programs only 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.

Financial Aid Checklist 2014-15

Please review the checklist to ensure all steps are completed. The checklist also provides deadlines and additional information which may be helpful in completing your applications.


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Office of Student Financial Aid 
and Scholarships

2309 West End Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203-1725

Monday - Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

On-campus: 2-3591
(615) 322-3591
1-800-288-0204
FAX: (615) 343-8512

finaid@vanderbilt.edu

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