Vanderbilt’s historic financial aid initiative attracts $20 million gift

Vanderbilt University’s recently announced enhanced financial aid program has received a major boost with a $20 million gift from an anonymous donor, Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said Monday.

Vanderbilt announced in October that it would replace need-based student loans with institutional grants and scholarships beginning in fall 2009 for all students with demonstrated financial need. As a result of a concerted seven-year initiative to reduce student indebtedness, the university in recent years has increasingly used out-right grants and scholarship rather than loans to meet students’ financial needs. The elimination of need-based loans is the culmination of that effort.

"We knew when we announced this initiative that it was ambitious, but we also knew that alumni and other friends of the university recognized its importance and we believed they would be generous in ensuring that highly qualified students can attend Vanderbilt no matter what their families’ circumstances," Zeppos said. "We are indeed grateful to this donor who has taken the lead in making that possible, particularly during these tough economic times. We welcome the good news."

In addition to the significant funding that has already been committed to the debt-reduction initiative since its inception, Zeppos said the additional dollars that will be required to fully replace need-based loans would come from institutional reallocations and from earnings on an additional $100 million to be raised in new scholarship endowment over the next several years. The $20 million gift is in response to the university’s effort to specifically seek new philanthropic gifts for the initiative. An additional $26 million has already been committed since the new initiative was announced in October, Zeppos said.

"In these difficult financial times, it is critical that highly qualified students of all economic, cultural and geographical backgrounds be able to avail themselves of a Vanderbilt education," Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Richard McCarty said.

Vanderbilt’s policy is to admit students on the basis of their talents and ability, regardless of their ability to pay. The university also commits to fully meeting all students’ demonstrated financial need.

In determining a student’s demonstrated financial need, Vanderbilt takes into account each student’s individual family circumstances and all educational costs such as tuition, fees, housing, meals, books, course materials, and personal and travel expenses. Vanderbilt has decided not to impose specified income-level caps in deciding eligibility for the program.

The enhanced program will apply to all undergraduates with demonstrated need who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens. In addition, all seniors set to graduate in May 2009 will have their need-based loans for the spring 2009 semester replaced with Vanderbilt grant and scholarship assistance.

Media Contact: Elizabeth Latt, (615) 322-NEWS

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