Financing Your Education
Apply for Financial Aid
More information about how to apply is available here for:
of Bennington students receive some form of financial aid (2022-23)
average financial aid award, including merit scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 (2022-23)
average federal student loan debt for a Bennington graduate (2023)
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.
Students and families can use our Net Price Calculator, which provides an approximation of what a full-time undergraduate student can expect to pay to attend Bennington College. It is not intended for use by continuing, graduate, or part-time students, who should contact the Financial Aid Office for more information. Housing/Meals costs are subject to change based on choice of housing and meal plan.
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 Student Aid Index (SAI), is calculated using a formula adopted by Congress and the information submitted by the applicant. The SAI is used in the determination of federal aid and the family’s contribution. A financial aid offer will be shaped to meet as much of the undergraduate student’s calculated financial need as possible through a combination of scholarships, grants, loans, and federal work-study.
How do I apply for financial aid?
International students who have completed an application for admission and indicated an interest in financial aid: the Office of Financial Aid will send you a Bennington College financial aid ID. You 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 your aid application.
For more information, see the Financial Aid for International Undergraduate Students page.
Domestic Students (U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents)
U.S. citizens and permanent residents should file the CSS PROFILE and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
For more information, see the Financial Aid for Undergraduates page.
What is FAFSA Simplification?
The FAFSA Simplification Act was enacted by Congress as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The law reduces the number of questions students will have to answer on the form, makes crucial changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965 to expand Pell Grant eligibility, and removes outdated restrictions to make federal student aid more accessible to all students. Starting with the 2024–2025 FAFSA, the application will have new questions, new rules, and new terminology. For more information, visit the FAFSA Simplification Act.
Do I need to get a new FSA ID with the new FAFSA?
If you already have an FSA ID, you won’t need to get a new one for the new FAFSA. However, a member of your family who didn’t need an FSA ID before may need one now. Example: If your parents are married but file taxes separately, both of your parents will now need their own ID to complete the FAFSA. Note: You cannot set up an FSA ID and complete the FAFSA on the same day, so it’s important to get an FSA ID ahead of time.
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 98 percent of Bennington undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. (2022-23)
What types of financial aid are available?
Bennington awards merit-based and need-based aid to undergraduates. Merit-based aid, in the form of scholarships, 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.
Does Bennington award merit-based aid?
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 $20,000 to $45,000 per academic year.
- Peter Drucker Merit Scholarship - Awarded to high-achieving students at the time of admission. Scholarships can range from $12,250 to $42,000 per academic year.
- John Dewey Merit Scholarship - Awarded at the time of admission. Scholarships can range from $12,500 to $40,000 per academic year.
- William Kilpatrick Merit Scholarship - Awarded at the time of admission. Scholarships can range from $7,500 to $37,500 per academic year.
- Thomas Brockway Faculty Scholarship - Awarded at the time of admission. Scholarships can range from $5,000 to $35,000 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 $2,500 to $15,000 per academic year.
- KIPP Scholars Merit Scholarship - Awarded to students who attended a KIPP ("Knowledge is Power Program") 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 are $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.
- Community College of Vermont Scholarship - Awarded to high-achieving students who live in Vermont at the time of admission. Scholarships of $20,000 are awarded per academic year.
- 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 $10,000 per academic year.
What does the average freshman financial aid package consist of?
In 2022-23, the average financial aid award totaled $54,636, of which $25,005 was merit-based. Awards for U.S. freshmen who file a FAFSA and demonstrate financial need include $5,500 in subsidized and/or unsubsidized federal student loans, and a Federal Work-Study allocation of approximately $2,300.
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 U.S. 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 $25,361 for the class of 2022.
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 have their cost of attendance and financial aid offer revised accordingly.
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.
Does Bennington offer any special financial aid programs for Vermont residents?
Through the No-Loan Initiative, first-year and transfer students whose families live in Vermont and who are eligible to receive need-based financial aid will receive a financial aid award that will meet 100% of demonstrated need towards their direct costs, including tuition, fees, room, and board.