Financing Your Education
of Bennington students receive some form of financial aid (2019-20)
average financial aid package with merit scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 (2018-19)
average federal loan debt for a Bennington graduate (2020)
Apply for Financial Aid
More information about how to apply is available here for:
Putting Together Your Package
In order to meet the cost of tuition and related expenses, most students draw from a number of different sources. Undergraduates may receive financial assistance from:
- Scholarships. All admitted students are automatically considered for a merit-based scholarship.
- Grants. Students with demonstrated need are invited to apply for a variety of grants.
- Loans. Federal, state, and college loans are available for students and parents.
- Work Study. Students are eligible to apply for federally subsidized campus jobs and paid employment during Field Work Term.
Bennington uses an online application management tool, My Financial Aid, to guide students and their families through the steps of applying for and securing aid. Our financial aid counselors are available throughout the process to answer questions about the application, the required documents, or a family's specific financial circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to attend Bennington College?
How is financial need determined?
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 considered to be the 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.
How do I apply for financial aid?
Once a student has completed an application for admission, including the enrollment 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. The student may use this information 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.
U.S. citizens and permanent residents file the CSS PROFILE, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and, later submit copies of parent and student W-2s as well as Bennington's online aid application. Applicants and their parents confirm tax information using the FAFSA-IRS Data Retrieval Tool or the IRS website to obtain their Tax Return Transcript several weeks after taxes are filed.
International students submit the CSS Profile and the Bennington online aid application on My Financial Aid. After receiving an award students will submit a Certification of Finance to begin the process of preparing the student's I-20.
How does aid for international students work?
Bennington considers a student’s financial need when reviewing international applications. Financial aid for international undergraduates is limited and consists of institutional grants and scholarships as well as on-campus employment. Learn much more about financial aid for international students here. All international student aid applications are due at the same time as domestic applicants: See Deadlines for Early Decision, Early Action and Regular Decision.
How many students receive financial aid?
Approximately 92 percent of Bennington undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. (2018-19)
What types of financial aid are available?
Bennington awards merit-based and need-based aid to undergraduates. Merit-based aid, in the form of the Brockway Presidential 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 Federal Direct Student Loans. 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 by completing the FAFSA and Bennington College Financial Aid Application.
Does Bennington award merit-based aid?
2020 Scholarships available from Bennington
Bennington Scholarships are awarded to freshmen and transfer undergraduate applicants at the time of admission and do not require an additional application. Scholarships will automatically renew each academic year of enrollment. Based on merit, the amount will not change regardless of changes to financial need. See the student’s financial aid award letter for usage restrictions. Eligible students can also apply for need-based aid in addition to merit scholarships.
- Presidential Merit Scholarship - Awarded to the most exemplary students at the time of admission. Scholarships can range from $5,000 to $32,500 per academic year.
- Peter Drucker Merit Scholarship - Awarded to high-achieving students at the time of admission. Scholarships can range from $5,000 to $30,000 per academic year.
- John Dewey Merit Scholarship - Awarded at the time of admission. Scholarships can range from $5,000 to $25,000 per academic year.
- William Kilpatrick Merit Scholarship - Awarded at the time of admission. Scholarships can range from $5,000 to $20,000 per academic year.
- Thomas Brockway Faculty Scholarship - Awarded at the time of admission. Scholarships can range from $5,000 to $12,000 per academic year.
- Young Writers Merit Scholarship - Awarded to finalists and winners of the Young Writers Contest during their high school enrollment. Scholarships can range from $5,000 to $15,000 per academic year.
- KIPP Scholars Merit Scholarship - Awarded to students who attended a KIPP high school. Scholarships can range from $10,000 to $20,000 per academic year.
- Vermont Leaders Scholarship - Awarded to high-achieving students who live in Vermont at the time of admission. Scholarships can range from $10,000 to $20,000 per academic year.
- Alumni Referral Scholarship - Awarded to alumni-referred applicants who identify an alum on their admissions application. Scholarships total $5,000 and are distributed as $1,250 each academic year.
- RaiseMe - Awarded dollar-for-dollar to students who qualify for micro-scholarships through the RaiseMe program during high school.
- Governors Institute of Vermont Scholarship - Awarded to students who identify at the time of admission that they attended one of the GIV residencies. Scholarships are $5,000 - $10,000.
- Choose Vermont Scholarship - Selected via lottery through Vermont Tourism, two students are selected to receive this scholarship as entering freshmen. Each scholarship is $5,000.
What does the average freshman financial aid package consist of?
In 2018-19, the average freshman award included around $33,000 of grant/scholarship funding from institutional sources, or an average of $35,600 from institutional, federal, state, and private sources. Awards for U.S. freshmen, who file a FAFSA, include $5,500 in subsidized and/or unsubsidized student loans, and a Federal Work-Study allocation of approximately $2,300, for students with financial need.
May I be considered an independent undergraduate?
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. There are other reasons, with federal verification that a student may be considered independent. Am I Dependent or Independent?
What is Federal Work-Study?
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 with financial need 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 seven hours per week). Entering students begin to apply for jobs during the summer using the online Handshake program. Some students earn less than the allocated amount or do not choose to use the FWS allocation at all. Workers are paid directly every two weeks for the hours they worked. Job opportunities vary and are available across the College: from the library, bookstore, or dining services to the drama scene shop or outreach programs in the community. 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, but our Career Development Office works with students to find employment.
What options exist for a student who does not receive as much aid as he/she desires?
Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to meet a student’s full financial need. Parents of a dependent US undergraduate student may borrow an amount up to the cost of education (minus other financial aid) through the Federal Direct PLUS (parent) Loan Program. Options also exist for alternative loans in the student's name with a credit-worthy cosigner. Students are encouraged to visit our Online Resources page to apply for outside scholarships.
Approximately how much will a student or a parent borrow in four years at Bennington?
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 in their own name. This is usually the first opportunity a student has to begin earning credit in their own name. At Bennington, 51% of students borrow through the federal loan program and the average amount of student debt upon graduation was $25,960 for the class of 2018.
Twenty-two 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 $32,500.
Institutional Aid Refund Policy
Bennington College awards merit and need-based financial aid based on the total cost of tuition, room, board, and required fees. Award packages for students who seek and are granted permission to be excluded from the College’s meal plan or from Bennington College housing will be reduced by 15% for each exclusion.
Is financial aid available for Field Work Term?
FWT does not charge tuition, therefore it is not covered by student financial aid packages. A limited number of College grants are available for need-eligible students, in order to partially offset demonstrated FWT costs for registered FWT experiences. Students can partake in FWT at other times of the year, or live at home and work in their field, bunk in with a classmate, etc. See information on FWT grants and funding.