Last week, just as school started up, Vanderbilt University’s Road Show came through town. MM’s on their mailing list but hasn’t really expressed any interest (or disinterest) in the school. But, it is within driving distance so it’s on my list. She didn’t complain about going to the presentation, so that was a good start.
The presentation, given by two people from the admissions office, went over the school’s policy for admissions, financial aid, and an overview of the various colleges, campus life, and the city. Immediately, I was impressed by their admissions policy. There are three components:
First: Since talent and promise recognize no social, cultural, economic, or geographic boundaries, our admissions process is need-blind for U.S. Citizens and eligible non-citizens.
What does this mean? It means that the applicant’s financial status does not factor into the admissions process. Students are accepted, or denied, on talent and merit. Why does this matter? Not all schools are need-blind, as discussed in this October 2013 Forbes article. I don’t know exactly where my income would fall on the spectrum for need-aware schools, but I’d feel a lot better knowing it wasn’t a consideration. Why not cross that bridge when we come to it instead of having it dropped in front of the bridge as a roadblock?
The second and third components really go together:
Second: Vanderbilt will meet 100% of a family’s demonstrated financial need.
Third: Financial aid awards do not include loans. Instead of offering need-based loans to undergraduate students, Vanderbilt offers additional grant assistance.
I don’t know if any other schools make the second promise, but it’s the addition of the third component that makes this significant. Now, before you get too excited, they’re not saying they’re handing out $63,000 to every student. What it basically means is after you’ve completed your FAFSA and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) has been determined, as well as any other financial awards you received, then Vanderbilt puts together a financial aid package that covers the rest. Of course, you still have to be accepted, but hey, not too shabby. Not all schools are need-blind. Some are very much need-aware. And just because a school is need-blind, it doesn’t mean it will meet full demonstrated need. Wikipedia has a page of schools and their need-blind statuses. It’s a good place to start, but the school’s Office of Financial Aid is, of course, the best source.
As I mentioned, they also went over the campus itself, Freshman life, Nashville, school clubs and organizations, etc. But, honestly, at an off-campus information session, it’s the admissions and financial aid that I’m more focused on. However, after this session, I think MM is open to a visit and considering Vanderbilt when she has to come up with her short list.
This is going to be a buuuuussssyyyy year!