See Tuition, Fees, and Costs.
A U.S. family’s ability to pay, known as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), is calculated using a formula adopted by Congress and the information submitted by the applicant. The EFC is subtracted from the student’s estimated education cost and leaves a gap, which is the determined need of that student. At least a part of an undergraduate student’s financial need is most often met through a combination of scholarships, grants, loans, and Federal Work-Study.
Once a student has completed an application for admission, including fee or fee waiver, and indicated an interest in financial aid, the Office of Financial Aid will send that student a Bennington College financial aid ID and PIN. The student may use these to file the Bennington College Financial Aid Application online and to check the status of other documents required as part of his/her aid application.
Bennington considers a student’s financial need when reviewing international applications. Financial aid for international undergraduates is limited and consists of institutional grants and loans as well as on-campus employment. We usually are able to meet full financial need for only a few international students each year. All international student aid applications are due by January 3.
Approximately 88 percent of Bennington undergraduates receive some form of financial aid.
Bennington awards merit-based aid and need-based funds to undergraduates. Merit-based aid, in the form of the Brockway or Bennington Scholarship, requires no separate application. Aid awarded on the basis of a student’s financial need includes the Bennington Grant, the Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG funds, Federal Work-Study, state grants, and the Federal Direct Student Loan. Students with a merit aid award often qualify for need-based aid as well if they have significant financial need. To qualify for need-based awards, applicants must apply for financial aid.
In 2012–2013, nearly 46 percent of the institutional grant/scholarship funds awarded to freshmen at Bennington were awarded on the basis of merit. Merit aid is awarded to students who have demonstrated excellence throughout their high school careers and who have submitted exemplary application materials. Merit scholarships do not require a financial aid application or other separate application materials.
In 2012–2013, the average freshman award included $25,500 of grant/scholarship funding from institutional sources, or an average of $27,600 from institutional, federal, state, and private sources. Awards for U.S. freshmen with financial need also include $3,500 to $5,500 in subsidized and unsubsidized student loans, and a Federal Work-Study allocation of approximately $2,300.
If, at the time you are applying to Bennington College for the first time, you are age 24 or older, you have been self-supporting and can document with tax returns that you have earned at least $17,500 per year for each of the prior two years, you may be considered an independent student for purposes of financial aid at Bennington.
Federal funds pay a portion of the wages of financially needy students who are working on campus or at designated local community service jobs. A U.S. student typically has a Federal Work-Study allocation in his/her financial aid award. At Bennington, this means that the student may earn up to the amount indicated (usually $2,300 per year, about nine hours per week). Entering students begin to apply for jobs during the summer using the online WorkLink program. Some students earn less than the allocated amount or do not choose to use the FWS allocation at all. Workers are paid every two or three weeks. Job opportunities vary from traditional library or food service positions to building drama production scenery or helping teach an after-school arts program. There are a limited number of regular student payroll jobs for students who do not qualify for the Federal Work-Study program. We do not assign or guarantee a student an on-campus job.
Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to meet a student’s full financial need. Parents of a dependent undergraduate may borrow an amount up to the cost of education (minus other financial aid) through the Federal Direct PLUS (parent) Loan Program. Direct PLUS loans have an interest rate of 7.9 percent. After the loan has been disbursed, parents may arrange with the lender to make interest-only payments while the student is in school, or make no payments, capitalizing the interest due. See Loans Information and Application.
U.S. undergraduates at Bennington can take student loans in the amount of $5,500 for freshmen, $6,500 for sophomores and $7,500 for juniors and seniors, a total of $27,000 after four years. At Bennington, the average amount of student debt upon graduation is $25,716.
Thirty percent of undergraduate parents borrow through the federal PLUS loan program at some point and upon graduation, after four years at Bennington, have accrued PLUS debt of $48,000.