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Opportunity Vanderbilt Nears $100 Million Threshold

Spring 2011The Greater Good  |  Share This  |  E-mail  |  Print  | 
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Vanderbilt is closing in on its initial goal of raising $100 million in gifts and pledges by June 30, 2011, for Opportunity Vanderbilt, the university’s initiative to eliminate need-based loans in financial aid packages. At press time donors had contributed $99 million for additional endowed scholarships.

The university first announced its commitment to replace need-based loans in financial packages with grants and scholarships Oct. 1, 2008, with the initiative taking effect in the fall of 2009. The announcement came at an inauspicious point—just two weeks after Lehmann Brothers filed for Chapter 11 in the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, an event followed by precipitous stock market declines.

Despite the challenging economic environment of the past two and a half years, Vanderbilt supporters have stepped up to the plate to help assure that highly talented students have access to Vanderbilt regardless of socioeconomic status or ability to pay.

“Vanderbilt’s investment to attract the best students regardless of financial circumstances is already paying off handsomely,” says Douglas L. Christiansen, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions. “We are getting the best students possible based on talent and ability, and our message that ability to pay is not an issue at Vanderbilt is being heard.”

This year’s entering class was the most selective in university history. And the number of applications continues to soar: Vanderbilt received a total of 24,756 applications for the Class of 2015, as compared to 21,811 applications for the Class of 2014. In 2008 there were 16,994 applications.

More than a thousand different high schools are represented in the current first-year class, which is also the most racially diverse in Vanderbilt history, with 30 percent self-identifying as a minority. Average SAT and ACT test scores ranked in the 97th percentile for all test-takers.

As Vanderbilt nears the $100 million mark, the need for resources to sustain Vanderbilt’s commitment over the long term remains great. Vanderbilt is not yet at the level of many of its peer institutions in terms of financial aid resources.

To find out more about scholarship gifts, please call Randy Smith at (615) 343-4475 or visit


© 2015 Vanderbilt University

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Maria Hibbard

Financial assistance “has truly opened up a hundred windows of opportunity for me at Vanderbilt,” says senior Maria Hibbard. A bassoonist who is majoring in musical arts at the Blair School of Music, Hibbard is also completing a second major in human and organizational development. This year she is receiving funds from three scholarships: the Laura Kemp Goad Honor Scholarship, the Ada Bell Stapleton/Blanche Henry Weaver Scholarship, and a Curb Leadership Scholarship. Her Vanderbilt activities include service as a resident adviser on The Commons and head resident of West House, faculty relations chair of the Honor Council, and co-chair of Great Performances for two years.

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