The ED & Financial Aid Quandary
We got a really good question about Early Decision & fin aid from Talha and I thought I would answer it here instead of replying over email.
“Hey bloggers, I was wondering wheather (sic) applying early decision to Vander-awsome-bilt would affect at all the financial need of a student/family. I know that once you are accepted under the early decision plan you must attend vandy (which I can’t imagine anyone complaining about) but is it possible that financial aid could be declined and the student would end up in massive debt?”
This is an essential question to applying early decision, no doubt about it.
A couple of things you already know: 1) we’re need blind in our admissions review, 2) we meet 100% of a family’s demonstrated need, and 3) starting in the Fall of ’09, we will no longer package need-based loans in our financial aid awards. We call these our three commitments. There could easily be a fourth commitment: we promise that whatever package you would receive by applying for aid as a regular decision applicant, you will receive as an ED applicant. We don’t monkey around with your aid by saying “Well, Steve’s already committed to coming to Vanderbilt, so let’s take $2,000 from his package and give it to someone else in the RD pool.” Some schools may change your financial aid package, or will not consider you for merit scholarships if you apply early decision, so be sure to ask any institution you are considering.
From a practical matter, ED families can complete the College Board’s CSS Profile, which allows us to provide a rough estimate for the kind of aid package they could expect from VU. The full and official financial aid offer does not come until both the FAFSA and the CSS Profile have been received and admit packets go out on April 1st (admitted ED students get a letter of admission, and then the full packet when everyone else gets it in April).
To answer your question directly Talha, VU doesn’t “decline” a student’s financial aid award. Perhaps what you are alluding to is that your family might not have any demonstrated need (total cost of attendance (minus) your family contribution (equals) demonstrated need). Whether you will take on debt largely depends on whether you, or your family, need to take out loans to meet your family contribution. What VU is promising to do is to no longer package loans as a part of our initial need-based financial aid packages.
Two things to do with your parents tonight after Jeopardy, 1) go to the College Board’s EFC Calculator (by far the best I’ve seen) with a recent copy of your family’s taxes and follow the simple instructions, 2) have a conversation as a family about what is considered an affordable college based on the outcome of that calculator. Keep in mind that the EFC calculator will give you a choice between calculating an EFC using the “Federal Methodology” or the “Institutional Methodology” which is referencing different kinds of formulas often used to calculate a family contribution. VU uses institutional methodology to determine eligibility for Vanderbilt grant and need-based scholarship assistance. These calculators are a good starting point in determining your estimated financial need.
Talha, you also asked for a profile of the “average VU” student in the incoming class. I touched on this a couple weeks ago, so check that out. Thanks Talha!