Vanderbilt’s new expanded aid program has resulted in the most selective class in the university’s history.
Beginning in the fall of 2009, Vanderbilt eliminated all need-based loans for admitted students, choosing to substitute scholarships and grants for those with demonstrated need. Applications jumped to 21,811 for the Class of 2014, up 13 percent from the previous year’s 19,353. In 2008 there were 16,994 applications.
“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. “More than a thousand different high schools are represented in the new class, and our 17.9 percent admit rate is the most selective in our history.
“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.”
The Class of 2014 is 51 percent male and 49 percent female, with average SAT and ACT test scores in the 97th percentile for all test-takers. SAT scores for the middle 50 percent of the class ranged from 1360 to 1530, up 10 points from last year.
There are 146 valedictorians in the 1,600-member first-year class, with 85 percent in the top 10 percent of their high school class. All newly enrolled students had significant extracurricular or leadership experience in their high school or community.
The Class of 2014 also is the most diverse in Vanderbilt history, with 30 percent self-identifying as a minority. The percentage of African American students rose to 8.9 percent from 7.4 percent for the Class of 2013. Hispanics make up 9 percent of the class, up from 8.6 percent last year.
Vanderbilt’s growth in economic diversity has been noted by U.S. News & World Report, which released its annual rankings just before first-year students moved onto The Commons. The magazine reported that 11 percent of Vanderbilt’s student body receive federal Pell grants, most of which are awarded to people with family incomes under $20,000.
Overall, Vanderbilt maintained its No. 17 rank, tied with Rice University, on the U.S. News list of best national universities. (The list was headed by Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities at No. 1, 2 and 3, respectively.) Vanderbilt also was noted on lists of national universities that deliver the best value for their cost in a new survey of high school guidance counselors.
The School of Engineering was ranked No. 36 (up from No. 40 the previous year) among engineering schools whose highest degree awarded is a doctorate. Massachusetts Institute of Technology headed that list.
Vanderbilt was ranked No. 11 on the “Great Schools, Great Prices” list, which compares academic quality with the net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of need-based financial aid. The first-time “High School Counselors’ Picks” list ranked Vanderbilt at No. 19.