Skip to Content

Dream Realistically


Total amount of gift assistance, from all sources, awarded to all undergraduate students for the 2009-10 academic year.


We individually review 100% of the need-based financial aid applications from students and commit to meeting 100% of each admitted student’s demonstrated financial need without including need-based loans.

"Can we afford it?" That one question has an astounding impact on where a student will go to school. Pros and cons are weighed, sleep is lost, and final decisions are often made based on the answer. Vanderbilt has long valued the opportunities that an education offers outstanding students as well as the benefits that future generations will receive. 

We believe that when barriers to a Vanderbilt education can be reduced or eliminated, every student benefits from a learning community that includes talented, qualified individuals from all backgrounds. We make three important commitments in support of this goal:

  • Since talent and promise recognize no social, cultural, economic, or geographic boundaries, our admissions process is need-blind.
  • Vanderbilt will meet 100% of a family’s demonstrated financial need for all admitted U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens.
  • Financial aid awards do not include loans.

Instead of offering need-based loans to undergraduate students, Vanderbilt offers additional grant assistance.

Keeping it Personal

In a world dominated by automated voice commands, texts, and e-mails, Vanderbilt’s Office of Financial Aid and Undergraduate Scholarships takes a decidedly old-school approach—straight talk from real human beings. Helping keep it personal is program coordinator Sammie Huffmon, a woman who wields her easy charm as skillfully as her calculator as she finds ways to help students fund their Vanderbilt education.

“Don’t ever cross Vanderbilt off your list because of cost. We’ll do everything we can to make it happen.”

Sammie Huffmon, Financial Aid Officer

“So often people wake up and say ‘Oh my goodness, my kid wants to go to college and how in the world am I going to pay for it?’ Most of the time, if a student is admitted here, we can help them,” she is quick to point out.

While a letter of admission is cause for celebration, it is the financial aid award that often generates most of the calls. Asked for her advice on how to afford college, Sammie replies, “Don’t assume that you’re not going to receive any need-based aid or that need-based aid is only for the very poor. Once you subtract the EFC, or Expected Family Contribution, from our total cost of attendance, what’s left is demonstrated need, and that’s the amount we are going to fund 100%.”

“Plus, we have replaced the need-based loan portion of our financial aid packages with grant money as part of Vanderbilt’s expanded aid program. Students and parents can still take out loans if necessary, but we don’t want students to graduate college with a ton of loans. This initiative is the latest way Vanderbilt is helping out.”

After years of getting to know people from all walks of life, Sammie remains adamant about the possibilities Vanderbilt can offer. “When a family says, ‘Yes, my child would love to go to Vanderbilt, but the cost is more than my salary,’ and then they call this office and hear someone say, ‘We can help you make this happen,’ and we actually make it happen, families are very grateful and very kind.”

Learn more.