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    Undergraduate Financial Aid Handbook

    Introduction

    College financial aid can seem like a maze of forms, regulations, and figures. Even students who have received financial aid in previous years find that a new year brings new questions. This handbook is designed to explain those regulations as well as the College’s procedures. It should be used in conjunction with personal contact with members of the Financial Aid Office staff.

    The Financial Aid Office is located in Barn 104 and is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm weekdays during the term; 8:30 am to 4:00 pm during the rest of the year. Students are welcome to stop by with questions at any time or to make an appointment with a staff member. 

    Financial Aid Award 

    The primary responsibility for financing an education belongs to the student and his/her family. In general, the family’s income and assets are taken into account by the Financial Aid Office to produce an index of family financial strength. As its resources allow, Bennington will help meet the difference between family resources and the total cost of attending the College. 

    COLLEGE COSTS

    Direct and Indirect Costs  

    Bennington charges include tuition, room and board, an activities fee, a health administration fee, a transcript fee for entering students, and possibly materials charges for some classes. Optional services for which the College charges students include health insurance (mandatory if not otherwise covered), and car registration fees. Budgeting for the cost of a student’s education means planning for more general expenses as well. These may include books and supplies, personal expenses, transportation to and from school, and loan fees. While these costs do not appear on a student’s bill, they are real expenses and require an expenditure of resources. 

    Term Start-up Expenses

    For many students, most of the funds for books, supplies, and personal expenses are needed at the beginning of a term, generally before the student can get an on-campus job and paycheck. A student should plan to arrive on campus with sufficient funds for books, supplies, and initial living expenses (at least $600). The first paycheck for work-study students arrives nearly a month into the term. A student who will not work during the two terms on campus should budget at least $3,000 for books, supplies, and personal expenses. 

    Field Work Term 

    Students must plan for expenses associated with the six to seven-week Field Work Term (FWT), often $1,000–$3,000. Most students are off-campus during this time, and Bennington does not charge tuition for this required work period. Students meet their FWT expenses in a variety of ways: some with salaries or stipends provided by an employer, some by doing a combination of paid and volunteer work, some by living at home. (For more information on the Field Work Term, contact the Field Work Term & Career Development Office, Bennington College, fwt@bennington.edu.) 

    Cost Increases and Aid Awards 

    Families should anticipate some increase in the cost each academic year. As costs increase, the financial aid package will be affected in the following ways. In general, students who receive merit awards such as Brockway Scholarships will receive the same amount of Brockway funding each term they’re at Bennington (see details, page 3) without having to reapply for that aid. For students with need-based institutional aid such as Bennington Grant, if the family circumstances affecting a student’s aid eligibility have not changed significantly, the student’s institutional grant funds will, in the coming year, remain at the same percentage of tuition, room, board, and activities fee charges. That is, a student receiving a Bennington Grant of 50% of tuition, room, board, and activities fee should have a 50% grant for four consecutive years at Bennington assuming a similar family financial profile and the student’s satisfactory academic progress and full-time attendance. 

    STUDENT AND FAMILY RESOURCES 

    Student/Family Contribution to College Costs 

    For a student who receives need-based financial aid, the portion of Bennington costs that is the responsibility of the student and/or family is derived from a consideration of numerous factors including income, assets, family size, number of children in college, merit aid awarded, available Bennington aid funds, and other information. For US undergraduates, much of this information is gathered on the CSS PROFILE and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the Bennington Financial Aid Application, non-custodial parent information if applicable, W-2s, and additional information submitted by the applicant. College expenses for which a student and/or family are responsible may differ substantially from the federally calculated family contribution shown on the FAFSA.

    The student/family contribution to education expenses may change from one year to the next as family circumstances change (or as College costs change). Circumstances which most commonly alter the contribution include changes in:

    1. family income or assets; 
    2. the number of dependents in the household;
    3. the number of children attending college. 

    Though the Financial Aid Office will attempt to make it possible for students with changed financial circumstances to continue at Bennington, aid funds are limited. Entering students and their families should not anticipate paying a lesser amount in future years, though in some cases, a reduction is possible. 

    **A student should plan to arrive on campus with sufficient funds for books, supplies, and initial living expenses (at least $600).**

    Other Resources for Paying the College Bill 

    Because it may not be possible to pay the college bill from current income and assets, families may utilize other resources.

    Student Employment 

    Some students work over the summer and during the academic year to pay $2,000–$3,000 of college expenses.

    Outside Scholarships 

    The best source of outside scholarships seems to be local organizations, so students should check with the high school, Chamber of Commerce, state education agency, and civic and social organizations in their home areas. Peruse the potential scholarship resources on the financial aid section of our website. Other sources include scholarship web sites on the internet such as:  

    • College Board Scholarship Search
    • College Scholarships
    • Department of Labor Scholarship Search Tool
    • Fast Web!
    • Federal Student Aid—Finding Scholarships
    • Scholarships.com
    • Scholarship America 

    Any outside scholarships awarded to an aid recipient must be reported to the Financial Aid Office and reflected in the student’s award. Scholarships will be used to:

    1. meet a student’s federally-calculated financial need;
    2. when federal need is met, reduce his/her subsidized direct student loan (the loan may become an unsubsidized student loan);
    3. when federal need is met and no subsidized direct student loan remains, reduce Bennington Grant. 

    Employer Tuition Benefits 

    This resource reduces education costs, and may change a student’s aid eligibility, reducing need-based aid. The Financial Aid Office should be notified as early as possible of a tuition benefit. 

    Veterans Administration and Yellow Ribbon Benefits
     
    Beginning August 1, 2019, in accordance with the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act of 2018, students using Ch. 33 Post 9/11 GI Bill or Ch. 31 Voc Rehab benefits, even if the VA has not yet paid tuition and fees, will not be prevented from enrolling, assessed a late penalty fee, required to secure alternative or additional funding, or be denied access to any school resources (access to classes, libraries, or other institutional facilities) that are available to other students that have paid. Students will need to:
    • produce the VA’s Certificate of Eligibility by the first day of class,
    • provide written request to be certified, and
    • accept the benefits noted in their award on their My Financial Aid page

    Equity Lines & Mortgage Refinance 

    Some parents work with a local bank to access lines of equity or refinance existing mortgages. As early as March or April, parents should investigate what banks in their area can offer for the coming academic year. 

    Additional Parent and Student Loans 

    Though direct loan funds are included in a student’s financial aid award, families may decide to borrow additional funds to pay the bill. Federal direct loans for students and federal direct PLUS for parents of dependent undergraduates are generally the most commonly used and least expensive education loans. 

    Federal Direct Student Loans 

    Student awards usually reflect the maximum federal loan the student can borrow for the academic year. (See the annual amounts chart below.) If a parent is denied a federal direct PLUS loan, however, his/her student gains eligibility for additional, unsubsidized, student loan (usually $4,000 or $5,000 for the full academic year), and should contact the Financial Aid Office (finaid@bennington.edu) if that additional loan is desired. 

    Federal Direct PLUS (parent) Loans 

    Parents may apply for a PLUS loan for their student’s costs not covered by other financial aid. A Federal Direct PLUS application is completed by one parent, along with a master promissory note on the federal website, in May or June before academic year begins. If the loan is approved, the parent is notified, and funds are disbursed at the beginning of the academic terms. PLUS (parent) loans are more expensive than federal student loans, but frequently less expensive than private alternative education loans. See the loans pages on the Bennington website for more information. 

    Private / Alternative / Supplemental Loans 

    Supplemental loans are most often student, not parent, loans. Because students often don’t have a credit history, a co-signer (frequently the parent) is generally required. These loans are not “guaranteed” by the federal government as are the direct student and direct parent PLUS loans, and thus are usually more expensive. They should be a last resort after other types of federal, state and institutional aid are exhausted. It’s particularly important to be an informed consumer because supplemental loan programs frequently offer different loan terms depending on the borrower or cosigner’s credit score. Borrowers should make sure they understand the terms before agreeing to take the loan. 

    TYPES OF ASSISTANCE 

    Federal Pell Grant, SEOG (Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant) 

    These funds are awarded on the basis of a matriculated student’s financial need, which is reevaluated each year when she/he reapplies for aid. The grants are not credited to a student’s account until the student has fully registered for classes and completed all required paperwork. Federal Pell Grants range up to $6,095 per year; SEOG awards range from $1,000 to $4,000 per year. 

    Bennington Grant, Presidential or Brockway Faculty Scholarship, Special Bennington Scholarships, Bennington Tuition Exchange Scholarships 

    Bennington Grants are awarded to students with demonstrated financial need. It is a fund supported by gifts from donors, often alumni, who want to help those who would not otherwise be able to afford a Bennington education. Through Bennington’s External Relations Office, student recipients may have the opportunity to meet or to be in touch with donors.

    Presidential or Brockway Scholarships are awarded to qualified students in the same amount for up to four years, regardless of financial need as long as the student makes satisfactory academic progress, is not suspended, and does not withdraw or take a leave of absence for more than one year.

    Bennington Named Scholarships are supported by gifts from alumni or friends of the College and are awarded based on the terms of the individual scholarships. Through Bennington’s External Relations Office, student recipients may have the opportunity to meet or to be in touch with donors.

    The Bennington Tuition Exchange Scholarship is awarded to incoming students and is renewable each year as long as the student makes satisfactory academic progress, does not take a leave or withdraw for more than one year, and continues to be designated as eligible by the parent’s employer institution. These funds are all gift aid; there is no repayment provision. 

    State Grant 

    The states of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Vermont have scholarship and/or grant funds available for their residents that may be used to help meet educational expenses at Bennington. Applicants from these states must complete the state grant applications each year. State grant funds awarded may replace family contribution or Bennington Grant, depending on financial need. 

    Federal Education Loans 
    There are two types of federal direct student loans.
    • A student must demonstrate financial need (per the FAFSA calculation) for a subsidized student loan. “Subsidized” means that the federal government pays the interest on this loan until six months after a student graduates or ceases to be enrolled on at least a half-time basis.

    • A student who is not eligible for (or not eligible for the full amount of) a federally subsidized student loan may take an unsubsidized direct student loan to cover education costs. These borrowers make either interest payments or capitalize interest due while they are in school. Capitalizing interest means that the interest a student owes (while she/he is in school and not making payments) is added to the total amount of the loan. See the Financial Aid Office staff for details. 

    Federal Direct Loans: Annual Undergraduate Maximums 

    • Freshmen: $5,500 (subsidized maximum, $3,500)
    • Sophomores: $6,500 (subsidized maximum, $4,500)
    • Juniors: $7,500 (subsidized maximum, $5,500)
    • Seniors: $7,500 (subsidized maximum, $5,500) 

    Independent students and dependent students whose parents are denied a PLUS loan can borrow an additional unsubsidized direct loan of $4,000/year if a freshman or sophomore; $5,000/year if a junior or senior. Eligibility may be lower for students attending for less than a full academic year. 

    Applying for a federal student loan is a multi-step process.

    • The student files a financial aid application (including a FAFSA and the online Bennington aid application) and receives an aid award which establishes his/her eligibility for a federal direct student loan. The FAFSA is available beginning October 1 of each year.
    • Applicants will be encouraged to use the IRS DRT to retrieve tax information.
    • All tax information, regardless of a balance being owed, is released in July allowing the ability to access a tax return transcript.
    • Once an aid award is calculated, the student accepts (or reduces or refuses) the loan amount on the My Financial Aid pages.
    • The student completes any additional required items such as FAFSA corrections using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, online loan counseling, and a new promissory note at https:// studentloans.gov, or the Student Loan Authorization Form, available after login at My Financial Aid
    • Loan proceeds will be disbursed near the beginning of the academic term after the student has fully registered for classes. 

    Required Loan Counseling—Entrance and Exit 

    A first-time federal student loan borrower is required to complete loan entrance counseling at https://studentloans.gov. Borrowers must complete loan exit counseling at the same website before graduating, withdrawing, or taking a leave of absence from the College. Entrance counseling must be completed for your loans to disburse. 

    Applying for Federal Direct PLUS (parent) Loans 

    Through the PLUS program, parents of dependent undergraduates may borrow up to the student’s cost of attendance for the academic year minus any other financial aid. To apply, a parent completes the federal direct PLUS application and a PLUS master promissory note, available at https://studentloans.gov. The parent’s FSA ID will be needed for login. If the loan is approved, funds are disbursed at the beginning of the academic terms. 

    PLUS Loan Denial

    If the parent of a dependent student applies for and is denied a PLUS loan because of poor credit, the student will become eligible for a limited amount of additional unsubsidized federal direct student loan—$4,000 per year for a freshman or sophomore and $5,000 per year for a junior or senior. 

    Disbursement, Notification, Cancellation

    No loan or other federal aid funds can be credited to a student’s account unless the student has registered for at least 12 credits (if attending full-time), so it is important that the student complete registration as early as possible.The student or parent borrower is notified when electronically-transferred loan funds are credited to the student’s account. She/he has 14 days, beginning the day of notification, to request that the loan be canceled and the funds be returned.

    Disbursement Amounts

    For full academic-year loans, half of the loan amount is disbursed each term. For one academic-term loans, the full amount is disbursed early in the term. Borrowers who wish to have different loan amounts each term of the academic year can take separate one-term loans. 

    Loan Interest Rates and Fees

    For federal direct loans first disbursed between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020 please review the interest rates and fees on the Federal Student Aid Page.  

     

    Timing of Disbursements

    Federal loan funds are disbursed within the first days of the term if the student:

    • has completed all required aid paperwork by July 1 (fall entry) or January 15 (spring entry)
    • has fully registered for classes 

    Credit Balances

    Borrowers whose loans cover more than the balance due to Bennington College will have a credit balance after loan disbursement. A credit balance can be refunded to the student borrower within 14 working days. 

    Limit to Federal Subsidized Loan Borrowing (150 Percent Rule)

    Beginning July 1, 2013, a Bennington undergraduate borrower new to the federal loan programs cannot receive additional Direct Subsidized Loan funds if he/she has already received subsidized loans for more than 12 full-time terms. In this federal rule, 12 terms represents 150 percent of the standard completion period for the undergraduate program.

    For transfer students, terms in which a borrower received federal subsidized loan funds at a prior school do count toward the limit. When a student receives loan funds but withdraws before completing the term, the term does count against the total (unless all the term’s loan federal loan funding is returned). Terms in which a student attends less-than-full time may count to a lesser degree against the total, depending on the loan amount relative to the yearly loan limit. 

    Debt and Repayment 

    A student with the maximum federal student loan each year will borrow:

    • Freshman: $5,500
    • Sophomore: $6,500
    • Junior: $7,500
    • Senior $7,500
    • TOTAL: $27,000 

    Borrowers with unsubsidized federal student loans who choose not to make interest payments while in school will have a larger repayment amount because they are responsible for repayment of the interest accruing while in school. For subsidized student loan borrowers, the in-school interest is paid by the federal loan programs.

    Tracking, Managing and Repaying Student Loans

    Repayment of a federal student loan begins six months after a borrower leaves school or graduates. The standard repayment period is ten years, though other options are available (including extended repayment, graduated repayment, income-contingent repayment, and income-based repayment). See http://www.finaid.org/calculator/, or http://www.direct.ed.gov/Calc/html. Check with your loan servicer, online or on the phone, for additional information about your qualifications. You will see your federal loan history – both federal Stafford loans and federal direct loans—on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). Parent PLUS loans do not appear there, except on a parent’s own NSLDS page. Logging in will require the borrower’s federal (FAFSA) FSA ID.

    If you are having repayment difficulties, contact your federal loan servicer. Your servicer’s name and contact information for each one of your federal loans appear on your NSLDS loan history page. Staying in contact with your loan servicer will ensure you stay on track for repayment.

    Private alternative loans are not included on NSLDS. To see all loan history—including both private loans AND federal loans, a student may request a copy of his/her credit report at https:// annualcreditreport.com. Enter your social security number and other authentication information (such as the lender for a particular credit or loan account, loan payment amount, or a previous address), and retrieve the loan information.

    Estimate what your monthly payment amount will be by using an online loan calculator. Note that a student who has borrowed the standard undergraduate maximum, $27,000, at a 6.4 percent interest rate would pay approximately $310 per month for ten years. A student who borrowed $10,000 would pay approximately $115 per month for 10 years. 

    PLUS (Parent) Loan Repayment

    Repayment of PLUS loans begins as soon as the loan is fully disbursed, though the parent may request forbearance from the servicer while the student is in school. See the online loan calculators to estimate repayment amounts.

    Tax Deduction on Education Loan Interest

    According to federal regulations, up to $2,500 of annual interest paid on federal education loans (student or parent) is tax-deductible if certain conditions are met. More information is available from the IRS website. A publication, #970, “Tax Benefits for Education,” may be printed from the IRS website.

    Student Loan Forgiveness

    Information on and links to loan forgiveness programs for volunteer work (Peace Corps, VISTA, Americorps) military service (Army National Guard), legal or medical services, teaching, and for loan repayment for federal agency employees is available from the following sites:

    www.finaid.org/loans/forgiveness.phtml   (general information on loan forgiveness)

    http://www.finaid.org/loans/ibrfaq.phtml   (loan forgiveness for employment in public service)

    www.staffordloan.com/repayment/forgiveness.php   (general information on loan forgiveness) 

    www.opm.gov/oca/PAY/StudentLoan/index.asp   (government employee loan repayment)

    www.aft.org/yourwork/tools4teachers/fundingdatabase/index.cfm   (search loan forgiveness programs for teachers) 

    Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Borrower 

    When you accept a loan, you accept legal and financial responsibilities that last until the loan is repaid. Here’s a checklist of your responsibilities, as well as your rights as a borrower. 

    When you accept a student loan, you agree to:

    • repay your loan(s), including accrued interest and fees, whether or not you complete your education, complete the program within the regular time frame, obtain employment, or are satisfied with your education;
    • complete online exit counseling before you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment;
    • notify the current holder of your loan within 10 days if you change your name, address, or phone number, drop below half-time status, withdraw from school or transfer, or change your graduation date;
    • direct all correspondence to the current holder or servicer of your loan; 
    • make monthly payments on your loan after leaving school, unless you’re granted a deferment or forbearance;
    • notify the current holder of your loan of anything that might change your eligibility for an existing deferment. 

    As a student borrower, you have the right to: 

    • receive a disclosure statement before repayment on your loan begins, including information about interest rates, fees, loan balance, and the size and number of payments;
    • prepay all or part of your loans without a prepayment penalty;
    • apply for deferment of your loan payments for certain specified periods, as long as you’re eligible;
    • request forbearance if you’re unable to make payments and don’t qualify for deferment (you must qualify according to the loan holder’s requirements);
    • receive proof when your loan is paid in full. 

    Questions about your loans?

    Find your loan servicer: Go to the NSLDS, the National Student Loan Data System, at www.nslds.ed.gov.nslds_SA/. Use your FSA-ID pin to log in and see a list of all your federal student loans. A drill-down will allow you to see contact information. If you have difficulty, be in touch with the staff of Bennington’s financial aid office, finaid@bennington.edu or 802-440-4325.

    Default Rate

    The three-year federal loan default rate for Bennington students was 2.9 for students who entered repayment after graduation in the year 2015. 

    Student Employment 

    Many student aid awards include eligibility to earn Federal Work Study (FWS) funds. Students are not guaranteed a job during the term, but many who try to obtain FWS work are successful. Students should work with the Career Development Office in the Barn to register and find employment via Handshake.  Earnings are paid directly to the student (rather than disbursed to the student’s Business Office account) and are most often used to pay personal expenses during the term. Some campus jobs are open only to FWS-eligible students, but others are open to any matriculated student and paid through the “regular” student payroll. Students may not earn more than the allocation in their financial aid award (generally $1,150 per term in total) through all campus jobs. Limit reminders are on the student's electronic timesheet.

    Information about getting a job, including up-to-date job listings, can be found on the Student Employment section of the Bennington website.

    A student who does not adhere to the terms of employment may lose his/her job and could be ineligible for any new student employment for a period of time.

    Community Service 

    A number of off-campus community service opportunities paying Federal Work-Study wages are available during the regular terms as well as during Field Work Term. Sites have included Bennington Headstart Plus, Hiland Hall School, North Bennington Graded School, Vermont Arts Exchange, and Hiland Hall Gardens. These community service jobs are listed in Handshake, under Off-Campus Jobs. Drop by the FWT & Career Development Office (Barn 113) for details or assistance. 

    Verification 

    Verification is the required process of confirming the information on which an aid award is based. It includes submitting required documentation, explanations, or confirmations such as an IRS tax return transcript. Students complete the Verification process as early as possible before the school year begins, confirming aid eligibility. 

    IRS TAX RETURN TRANSCRIPT

    U.S. income tax filers must now, per federal regulation, get direct IRS confirmation of their FAFSA tax information rather than submit copies of tax returns. The quickest and often simplest method is to use the IRS Data Retrieve Tool while filing the FAFSA.

    Students without need-based financial aid are not required to complete verification.

    Sibling enrollment

    Because sibling enrollment in college often has a strong effect on aid eligibility, Bennington may require confirmation of sibling enrollment in college. Enrollment may be checked through the National Student Clearinghouse, using the sibling’s name and birthdate provided on the Bennington College Financial Aid Application. If enrollment is not confirmed, Bennington may request that the sibling provide confirmation from his/her university on a form from Bennington’s Financial Aid Office. If confirmation of sibling enrollment cannot be obtained in a timely manner, the financial aid award may be recalculated. 

    Student or Parent Filing an Amended Tax Return 

    An individual who files an amended IRS income tax return must provide both of the following:

    • successful use of IRS-DRT from the original tax return and
    • a signed copy of the IRS Form 1040X, “Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” led with the IRS, and an IRS Tax Account Transcript.

    Eligible Non-Citizens

    Students who are US-registered aliens are considered “eligible non-citizens” and can receive federal aid, but must have their citizenship status confirmed annually by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This confirmation generally occurs when the FAFSA is processed. If the status is not confirmed or the College needs additional information, the Financial Aid Office staff will inform the student in writing, requesting documentation. The student must supply the needed documentation within 30 days. Bennington must send the documentation to the DHS within 10 days and will inform the student of his/her determined status when a final ruling from the DHS has been received. Bennington must provide an initial determination of the student’s status within 15 days of receiving the needed documentation. 

    Academic Progress and Academic Standing 

    To proceed successfully through Bennington, a student must meet the academic requirements outlined in the student handbook. Concurrently, students must progress adequately each term, move through the curriculum with broad goals for achieving a liberal arts education and, within that context, with the more focused goals of developing both an area of primary interest and the ability to do advanced work in that area.

    Academic advising is central to this process and active participation in advising makes it possible for students to make appropriate choices in their program of study.

    Change in Circumstances

    Appeals For Additional Aid 

    Any student who has applied for financial assistance has the right to appeal decisions regarding the allocation of financial aid. Questions about financial aid, as well as notification of dramatic changes in family circumstance, should be directed to the Financial Aid Office.

    Should students wish to appeal, they must submit a request form (available online or in the Financial Aid Office) to the Financial Aid Appeals Committee. June 30 (fall term) and January 15 (spring term) are the deadlines for filing appeals.

    New Applicants for Aid

    Students who enter Bennington without financial aid may apply for aid in subsequent years. These applicants will be evaluated for federal loan and work assistance first. Their need for institutional grant funds will be considered on a case-by-case basis after students currently receiving financial aid have been funded; the evaluation will consider merit in addition to financial need.

    Opting Out of College Housing or Meal Plan

    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.

    Independent/Dependent Student Status

    Financial aid is based on the premise that students and parents have the primary obligation for paying the costs of undergraduate education, and the College’s resources should be used to assist students whose family’s means are lacking. Bennington will not provide financial aid for students whose parents are able but unwilling to pay college costs nor for students who choose not to receive help from their parents.

    Although special circumstances are taken into account, the College generally does not consider students financially independent unless they are orphans, wards of the court, or beyond traditional college age. Though students, by reason of age, veteran status, or marital status, may meet federal guidelines for independent student status, Bennington may continue to require financial information from parents and include a parental contribution in the financial aid award. For example, a student who marries while attending Bennington becomes independent by federal definition. The College, however, will require financial information from parents as well as from the spouse as part of the aid application and will include a parental contribution in the award as well as one from the student and spouse. 

    Billing and Aid 

    Term bills are sent by the Bennington College Business Office on approximately July 1 for fall term and on December 15 for the spring term. 

    Federal and institutional grants and loans are credited to the student’s account:

    • after all aid paperwork is complete for loans (including electronic forms such as the master promissory note),
    • the award has been “accepted” (online, after login on the My Financial Aid page),
    • the student has registered for classes,
    • classes have begun.

    Outside scholarships, state grants, and tuition benefits from other employers are credited to the account of an enrolled student when the proceeds are received.

    Federal Work-Study (FWS) funds are not credited to the bill at all. The student is paid directly (generally every two weeks) for hours worked during the pay period.

    Any credit balance on an account will be returned to the student (or, if Parent PLUS loan balance, parent) unless the student (or parent) requests in writing that the College holds the credit in the student’s account to assist in budgeting payment for the following term. No interest on this credit balance is accrued. Refund checks will be issued within 14 days after the credit balance occurs. 

    Withdrawal and Refund Policy

    Students who are receiving aid and withdraw from the College during the term must provide official notification of intent to withdraw. Refunds of tuition and other payments, should there be any, will be based on the date the last class was attended. Official notice may be given by completing a withdrawal form and submitting it to the Office of the Dean, Barn 123, or to the Office of the Dean of Students, Barn 113. (Office hours are 9:00 am–5:00 pm during the term; 8:30 am– 4:00 pm during FWT and the summer.) A withdrawing student also may give oral notice to the Dean or the Registrar or, in the case of a medical withdrawal, to the Dean of Students. The College requests that all students withdrawing schedule an appointment with the Dean (802-440-4400).

    For students withdrawing during the term, the following date classifications are recorded.

    1. Date of Notification - This is date student confirms either verbally or in writing that they are withdrawing

    2. Date of Determination - This is the date that the school determines a student is withdrawn.  

    3. Official Withdrawal Date - This is the student's last date of class attendance and the date reported for enrollment and funding earned. 

    For students who attend classes but withdraw from the College by the deadlines below, an adjustment may be made to charges. If applicable, a portion of aid funds received will be returned to sources according to institutional, federal, and, where applicable, outside guidelines. The official withdrawal date determines how much federal student aid a student has “earned” (by virtue of being enrolled and present) and how much must be returned per the federal “return-of-funds” calculation. 

    Certain charges are nonrefundable, including fines (library, parking, maintenance, etc.), meal tickets, the transcript fee, the health service charge, fees for health services provided, enrollment deposits for new matriculants, and interest charges due to late payment.

    The College's official Withdrawal and Refund Policy is found here.

    Return of Federal Funds

    A portion of federal aid must be refunded to its sources if a recipient withdraws before or at the point at which the term is 61% percent over. Regulations specify the amounts of “earned” and “unearned” federal aid according to the percentage of the term completed before the official withdrawal date; the amount of federal funding to be returned is calculated accordingly. The calculated federal refund is returned to the aid programs in the order shown below. For example, a student whose award included an unsubsidized student loan would have the federal refund amount returned to that program. If the refund amount were greater than the unsubsidized student loan borrowed for that term, the remaining funds would be returned to the programs next on the list (from which the student had received funds for the term).

    1. Federal Unsubsidized Student Loan
    2. Federal Subsidized Student Loan
    3. Federal PLUS Loan
    4. Federal Pell Grant
    5. Federal SEOG
    6. Other Title IV student assistance 
    Reapplying for Financial Aid 

    Financial aid is awarded for one year at a time. Students who receive institutional merit aid, such as a Brockway or Bennington Scholarship, will automatically receive it each year (for eight terms) as long as they are in continuous attendance and are making satisfactory academic progress.

    A student’s eligibility for need-based aid is recalculated each year. Aid application instructions are available on the Bennington College website. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that required forms are on file by the deadline.

    Financial aid will be allocated to returning students in the order in which complete applications are received by the Financial Aid Office. Although the College will do its best to meet the financial needs of each student, funds are limited. Late applicants may receive awards in which the grant amount is smaller, and in extreme cases, receive no grant funding at all. 

    Time Away from Bennington 

    Study at Other Schools

    If a student’s Bennington-approved academic plan includes academic work (at another institution) applied toward the Bennington baccalaureate degree, financial aid for the term away may be processed by Bennington’s Financial Aid Office. Students studying abroad will fit into one of three categories for financial aid purposes: consortium, exchange, or leave of absence. A student enrolling as consortium student at another institution (in or outside the US) may receive federal direct loan and some federal and state grant funds, and perhaps some outside scholarships funds, though no Bennington funding is available for his/her time off-campus at another institution. The student should, in the term before departure, work with the Financial Aid Office to make arrangements for receipt of those aid funds.

    To cover administrative costs, a “transcript evaluation fee” is charged per term to returning Bennington students who request a transfer of the credits earned elsewhere. This fee is charged prior to consortium funds being refunded, or for students not studying with a consortium agreement, when studies commence at Bennington.

    A Checklist for Students Studying Away

    • Work in advance with your academic advisor and the Dean’s Office to include the courses you will take elsewhere as part of your degree program/academic Plan.

    • If you wish to use federal and state aid funds to help pay for the term away, obtain a consortium/contractual agreement from the Financial Aid Office. You will need time to gather signatures from various offices at Bennington. Then, it is your responsibility to make sure an official from the program you will attend completes the agreement and returns it to the Bennington College Financial Aid Office.

    • Discuss the financial impact of your term away with those helping you pay college bills. Make sure there is a clear understanding of the different costs and different amount of aid. Federal Pell Grant, state grant, and federal direct student and parent loan funds can be transferred as long as adequate financial need is established. How much, if any, of SEOG funding will transfer depends on costs and aid at the other institution.

      Neither Bennington merit aid/grant aid nor work-study can be utilized for a consortium study abroad.

    • Once your completed consortium/contractual agreement is received by the Financial Aid Office, your aid award for the term or year away will be calculated, and a copy sent to you or your family.

    • Bennington will send aid funds to your study program after all paperwork, including the registration verification, is complete.

    • Be sure to have an academic transcript showing your evaluations from your term away sent to the Dean’s Office. Deadlines are February 1 if you will return for spring term, and August 1 if you will return for the fall term. To receive financial aid for your subsequent term (at Bennington) you must document successful completion of your consortium term(s).

    • If you decide, once you are away for a term, to extend your period of study at the other program for an additional term, you will need to apply for an extension through the Dean’s Office. In addition, a new consortium/ contractual agreement addressing the additional term will be needed. Please call or e-mail the Financial Aid Office to have one sent. 

    Leaves of Absence and Withdrawals 

    Students who decide to withdraw or take an approved leave of absence must do a loan exit interview online at http://www.nslds.ed.gov/ nslds_SA/SaEcWelcome.do. Because the time away from classes is longer than the federal loan grace period, borrowers will be expected to begin loan repayment or make alternative arrangements with the lender.

    Aid students returning to Bennington after a leave of absence or a period of withdrawal must be in contact with both the Dean’s Office and the Financial Aid Offices at least three months prior to reentry.

    Withdrawals During the Term

    Withdrawing students should be aware that a departure during the academic term will have implications for the financial aid they’re receiving and for the amount due Bennington College. Recipients of federal aid such as direct student and parent PLUS loans and Pell and SEOG Grants will find that these must be returned on a pro-rata basis unless a student is withdrawing more than 60 percent into the term. In general, this means that if a student withdraws 25 percent of the way into the term, approximately 75 percent of federal aid will be returned to its sources. This may leave a student owing money, possibly a substantial amount, for the academic term. Contact the Financial Aid Office (Barn 104 or finaid@bennington.edu) for more information.

    In addition, according to Bennington’s standards of academic progress, students who receive financial aid for a term in which they receive no academic credit will find that the term has an impact on eligibility for financial aid.

    Withdrawing students who have received education loans are required to do an online exit counseling http://www.nslds.ed. gov/nslds_SA/SaEcWelcome.do. Once withdrawn, a student’s loan deferment status will change. 

    Federal Aid and Students Convicted of Drug Offenses 

    Current law specifies that federal Title IV aid eligibility is suspended if a student is convicted of violating any federal or state drug possession or drug sale law. Any person convicted of such a crime must notify the Financial Aid Office and also indicate such on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

    The FAFSA includes question 23, “Have you been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, loans, or work-study)?” A student who answers “yes” to this question will be required, through the FAFSA process, to complete the federal “Worksheet for Question 23” to determine the length of his/her ineligibility for federal aid.

    The length of ineligibility for federal student aid varies for students convicted of a drug offense while receiving federal aid. A conviction for “conspiring” to sell drugs is included in the category of a conviction for the sale of drugs. If a student is convicted both of possessing and of selling drugs, and the periods of eligibility are different, the student will be ineligible for a longer period.

    Students regain eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends or when they successfully complete a qualified drug rehabilitation program. Further drug convictions will make students again ineligible for federal financial aid.

    Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain it only if they successfully complete a rehabilitation program (as described earlier) or if a conviction is reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record so that fewer than two convictions for sale or three convictions for possession remain on the record. In such cases, the nature and dates of the remaining convictions will determine when the student regains eligibility. It is the student’s responsibility to certify completion of the rehabilitation program.

    A qualified drug rehabilitation program must include at least two unannounced drug tests and must satisfy at least one of the following requirements:

    • Be qualified to receive funds directly or indirectly from a federal, state, or local government program;
    • Be qualified to receive payment directly or indirectly from a federally or state-licensed insurance company; 
    • Be administered or recognized by a federal, state, or local government agency or court; or
    • Be administered or recognized by a federally or state-licensed hospital, health clinic, or medical doctor.

    Bennington College offers substance abuse prevention programs. Details are available in the Dean of Student’s Office. 

    Terms and Conditions 
    1. At Bennington College, financial aid awards are determined in accordance with principles and regulations established by the College, outside donors, and federal and state governments.
    2. Because the financial aid award may be determined without knowledge of other aid the student may receive, the aid award may be adjusted if other aid is received.
    3. Only students enrolled in a Bennington degree program are eligible for College financial aid.
    4. A student eligible to receive a state grant or other funding is expected to complete all necessary application procedures for this assistance. Bennington will not replace funds lost as a result of the student’s failure to comply with application requirements.
    5. Any scholarship/grant assistance received in excess of the cost of tuition, fees, and required books and supplies must be reported as gross income on a federal income tax return.
    6. College and federal regulations require that a student receiving financial aid from federal, state, or institutional sources maintain satisfactory academic progress.
    7. Federal law requires that prior to receipt of any federal student aid funds (Federal Work-Study, federal student loan, PLUS Loan, SEOG, or Pell Grant), each male student over 18 years of age who is a US citizen must register with the Selective Service, or indicate the reason he is not subject to registration. Male students who do not do so cannot receive federal funds and will not be awarded additional College funds in place of government funds.
    8. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office, in writing, of any change in his/her permanent mailing address. The student must also notify his/her loan servicer of such a change.
    9. No financial aid is available for studies beyond those required by the College for graduation. Elective additional work will not be funded.
    10. A student must complete registration for classes before the end of the second week of each term to be considered “enrolled” for that term. Federal funds cannot be credited to the student’s account until registration is complete. Failure to register by the deadline will result in loss of financial aid.
    11. Some aid recipients will be asked to supply documentation of their citizenship status, Selective Service registration status, or social security number. Such information must be submitted within 30 days. Students and families may also be asked to provide documentation of sibling college enrollment within a specified amount of time. Failure to respond appropriately to these requests jeopardizes aid eligibility.
    12. All entering undergraduate aid recipients must ensure that the Admissions Office receives a complete high-school transcript indicating satisfactory completion of and graduation from high school, or the recognized equivalent of a high-school diploma, or a state-approved home-schooling program.
    13. Transfer students must ensure that the Admissions Office receives academic transcripts that include all periods of enrollment at other institutions.
    14. Aid recipients must ensure that all financial aid application materials they and their parents submit are true and correct. Should an amended tax return be filed, an IRS statement of “tax account information” must be sent immediately to Bennington College so that aid eligibility can be reviewed. Failure to do so jeopardizes aid.
    15. Bennington will not award aid to an applicant (or applicant family) who does not file a U.S. tax return by the federal deadlines if required by law to do so.
    16. Applicants who are in default on a federal student loan and who have not made satisfactory repayment arrangements enabling them to borrow again cannot receive aid at Bennington College.
    17. 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. 

    International Financial Aid Handbook

    Introduction

    College financial aid can seem like a maze of forms, regulations, and figures. Even students who have received financial aid in previous years find that a new year brings new questions. This handbook is designed to explain those regulations as well as the College’s procedures. It should be used in conjunction with personal contact with members of the Financial Aid Office staff.

    The Financial Aid Office is located in Barn 104 and is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm weekdays during the term; 8:30 am to 4:00 pm during the rest of the year. Students are welcome to stop by with questions at any time or to make an appointment with a staff member. 

    Financial Aid Award 

    For Bennington students, the primary responsibility for financing an education belongs to students and their families. The College assumes that students and families will make every effort to contribute.

    For students whose own resources are not equal to the cost of attending Bennington and whose accomplishments make them especially qualified members of the community, the College will provide assistance to the extent funds are available. The award letter delineates the aid funds allocated for a student for one academic year.

    At the time of enrolling at Bennington, each international student completes a Certification of Finances which shows the financial resources that student will use to pay for years of study at the College. The resources listed there must be secure because Bennington aid is limited, and a student’s financial aid for coming terms is not likely to increase. 

    College Costs

    Direct and Indirect Costs

    Bennington charges include tuition, room and board, an activities fee, a health administration fee, a transcript fee for entering students, and possibly materials for some classes. Optional services for which the College charges students include car registration fees and health insurance (mandatory if no other coverage). Budgeting for the cost of a student’s education means planning for more general expenses as well. These may include books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation to and from school. While these costs do not appear on a student’s bill, they are real expenses and require an expenditure of resources.

    Term Start-up Expenses

    For many students, most of the funds for books, supplies and personal expenses are needed at the beginning of a term, generally before the student can get an on-campus job and paycheck. A student should plan to arrive on campus with sufficient funds for books, supplies, and initial living expenses (at least $600). The first paycheck for students with on-campus jobs arrives nearly a month after classes begin. Students who will not work should anticipate needing at least $3,000 for books, supplies, and personal expenses during the year.

    Field Work Term

    Students must plan for expenses associated with the seven-week Field Work Term (FWT), often $1,000 to $3,000. Many students are off-campus during this time and Bennington does not charge tuition for this required work period. Students meet their FWT expenses in a variety of ways: some with salaries or stipends provided by an employer, some by doing a combination of paid and volunteer work, some by living at home. (For more information on the Field Work Term, contact the Field Work Term & Career Development Office, Bennington College, fwt@bennington.edu.) 

    Cost Increases

    Families should anticipate some increase in the cost each academic year. As costs increase, the financial aid package will be affected in the following ways. In general, students who receive Brockway scholarships will receive the same amount of Brockway funding each term they’re at Bennington (see details below) without having to reapply for aid. For students with need-based institutional aid, the student’s institutional grant funds will, in the coming year, remain at the same percentage of tuition, room, board, and activities fee charges. That is, a student receiving a Bennington Grant of 50% of tuition, room, board, and activities fee should have a 50% grant for four consecutive years at Bennington assuming a similar family financial profile and the student’s satisfactory academic progress and full-time attendance.

    Types of Assistance

    Bennington Grant

    The Bennington Grant is a need-based grant that is funded by gifts from donors—friends of the College, foundations, or often alumni —who wish to help those who would not otherwise be able to afford a Bennington education. Through our External Relation’s Office, student recipients may have the opportunity to meet or be in touch with these donors.

    Brockway and Special Bennington Scholarships

    Brockway Scholarships are awarded each year, for up to four years, regardless of financial need, provided the student makes satisfactory academic progress and does not withdraw for more than one year.

    Special Bennington scholarships are awarded to new students and may (but will not necessarily) be renewed for succeeding years as long as the student remains in good academic standing. Recipients are frequently asked to be in touch with the donor of the scholarship. 

    Bennington 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. 

    Student Employment

    Earnings from part-time employment during the term can help students meet expenses. Every two to three weeks, students are paid by check for hours they have worked. Employment may not exceed 20 hours per week for all combined jobs. More often, a student works an average of five to six hours per week with a maximum of nine to ten hours weekly. International students should be aware that, as non-immigrant aliens, they are eligible only for jobs classified on campus as “regular employment,” not for jobs funded by the Federal Work-Study program (FWS jobs). 

    To obtain a campus job during the term, it is the student’s responsibility, after arriving on campus, to:

    1. make arrangements with the Student Life Office to apply for a U.S. Social Security number if the student does not already have one;
    2. report to the Student Life Office with passport and visa to complete additional payroll forms;
    3. review the posted positions online at Handshake.
    4. take new U.S. Social Security cards to the Business Office (Barn 101C) so the correct number can be recorded.

    For more information on getting a job, see http://www.bennington.edu/student-employment

    Terms and Conditions of the Financial Aid Award
    1. The College cannot make adjustments to international student aid awards because of fluctuations in an exchange rate or in the home country’s economy.
    2. Because the financial aid award may be determined without knowledge of other aid the student may receive, individual portions of the aid award may be adjusted if other aid is received.
    3. Only students enrolled in a Bennington degree program are eligible for College financial aid.
    4. A student receiving financial aid must maintain satisfactory academic progress (see below).
    5. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office, in writing, of any change in permanent mailing address.
    6. No financial aid is available for studies beyond those required by the College for graduation.
    7. Any scholarship/grant assistance received in excess of the amount of tuition, fees, and required books and supplies must be reported as gross income on a federal income tax return.
    8. 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. 
    Special Requirements 

    Tax Status and Identification

    All students are required to have a U.S. Social Security number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification number (ITIN). International students who do not have one when they arrive at Bennington should alert the International Student Advisor in the Student Life Office. Very early in the fall term, a group of students needing Social Security numbers will travel to a Social Security Office to apply. Those going must bring their visas, passports, and I-20 form. Once a Social Security card is received, a student must bring it to the Business Office so the correct number can be recorded.

    Each calendar year, students who are non-resident aliens must complete IRS Form W-8BEN and/or Form 8233, government forms which specify the student’s tax withholding status. The Student Life Office provides help with these forms. The particular form required is determined by students’ countries of residency and by whether they intend to work on campus. NOTE: These forms must be completed before the year’s financial aid can be disbursed to a student’s account.

    Filing a U.S. Tax Return (1040NR)

    Each year, non-resident aliens receiving scholarship or grant assistance must file a U.S. income tax return. They must file by April 15. For those students who received financial aid from Bennington College, the Business Office will also supply an official statement of aid on a Form 1042-S and a statement of any monies earned through on-campus work on a W-2. Both statements are used in completing the 1040NR.

    For students receiving financial aid and completing the 1040NR, all or part of a grant or scholarship used to pay “qualified educational expenses” is exempt from taxation. If a student’s grant or scholarship is greater than the cost of tuition, fees, and books, the portion of the grant used for room, board, and incidental expenses is fully taxable.

    The U.S. Government defines “qualified educational expenses” as:

    • tuition;
    • fees required for enrollment in an educational organization; and
    • fees, books, supplies and equipment required for enrollment in a particular course at an educational organization.

    There may be special provisions to the law that apply to students from countries with U.S. tax treaties.

    Arrangements for Field Work Term

    During the Field Work Term (FWT), which occurs in January and February, Bennington students leave campus to take jobs and internships. International students, however, are affected by certain U.S. Immigration Service regulations, which they must take into account when planning for FWT.

    First-Year International Students

    For the first nine months of their residence in the U.S., students with F-1 visas (non-immigrant aliens) are not eligible to work off-campus for pay, room and board, or any other form of remuneration. Options for these students include:

    • working on campus;
    • going home, though students are still responsible for working 30 hours per week at a FWT position at home;
    • getting a volunteer position.

    The FWT office staff and resources are available to provide assistance in arranging a Field Work Term experience, but securing a position is ultimately the responsibility of the student.

    All Other International Students

    Federal work restrictions are waived after the first nine months of residency. Therefore, in their second year of study, international students are allowed to take paying internships and off-campus employment anywhere in the United States.

    Students working off-campus for pay must see the International Student Advisor, located in the Office of Student Life, to fill out a Form I-538, update their SEVIS record, and have the Form I-20 signed and dated specifying permission to work off-campus. 

    Billing

    Term bills are sent by the Bennington College Business Office on approximately July 1 for fall term, on December 15 for spring term, and monthly as long as a balance is due.

    The “Payment Options” form (which is sent with enrollment forms to new students and by the Business Office in November and May to continuing students) describes the different schedules available for payment of school charges. Payment in full of the balance due, or a written arrangement for a payment plan and payment of the minimum amount due must be received by the Business Office no later than August 1 for fall term and February 1 for spring term. No student will be permitted on campus until this financial obligation is met.

    An international student borrowing through a supplemental loan program must have loan approval no later than August 15 for fall term or January 15 for spring term, or the student will have to make alternative arrangements to pay the Bennington College bill before arriving on campus.

    Bennington grant aid is credited to the student’s account after the aid award has been accepted by the student, done online on the My Financial Aid pages, the student is registered for classes, and any necessary paperwork has been submitted.

     

    Withdrawal and Refund Policy

    Students who are receiving aid and withdraw from the College during the term must provide official notification of intent to withdraw. Refunds of tuition and other payments, should there be any, will be based on the date the last class was attended. Official notice may be given by completing a withdrawal form and submitting it to the Office of the Dean, Barn 123, or to the Office of the Dean of Students, Barn 113. (Office hours are 9:00 am–5:00 pm during the term; 8:30 am– 4:00 pm during FWT and the summer.) A withdrawing student also may give oral notice to the Dean or the Registrar or, in the case of a medical withdrawal, to the Dean of Students. The College requests that all students withdrawing schedule an appointment with the Dean (802-440-4400).

    For students withdrawing during the term, the following date classifications are recorded.

    1. Date of Notification - This is date student confirms either verbally or in writing that they are withdrawing

    2. Date of Determination - This is the date that the school determines a student is withdrawn.  

    3. Official Withdrawal Date - This is the student's last date of class attendance and the date reported for enrollment and funding earned. 

    For students who attend classes but withdraw from the College by the deadlines below, an adjustment may be made to charges. If applicable, a portion of aid funds received will be returned to sources according to institutional, federal, and, where applicable, outside guidelines. The official withdrawal date determines how much federal student aid a student has “earned” (by virtue of being enrolled and present) and how much must be returned per the federal “return-of-funds” calculation. 

    Certain charges are nonrefundable, including fines (library, parking, maintenance, etc.), meal tickets, the transcript fee, the health service charge, fees for health services provided, enrollment deposits for new matriculants, and interest charges due to late payment.

    The full Withdrawal and Refund Policy for the College is found here.

    Reapplying for Financial Aid 

    Financial aid is awarded for one year at a time. Students who receive institutional merit aid, such as a Brockway or Bennington Scholarship, will automatically receive it each year (for eight terms) as long as they are in continuous attendance and are making satisfactory academic progress.

    A student’s eligibility for need-based aid is recalculated each year. Aid application instructions are available on the Bennington College website. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that required forms are on file by the deadline.

    Financial aid will be allocated to returning students in the order in which complete applications are received by the Financial Aid Office. Although the College will do its best to meet the financial needs of each student, funds are limited. Late applicants may receive awards in which the grant amount is smaller, and in extreme cases, receive no grant funding at all. 

    Academic Progress and Academic Standing 

    To proceed successfully through Bennington, a student must meet the academic requirements outlined in the student handbook. Concurrently, students must progress adequately each term, move through the curriculum with broad goals for achieving a liberal arts education and, within that context, with the more focused goals of developing both an area of primary interest and the ability to do advanced work in that area.

    Academic advising is central to this process and active participation in advising makes it possible for students to make appropriate choices in their program of study.

    1. Academic Progress

    2. Quantitative Standard

    3. Qualitative Standard

    4. Academic Standing

    Time Away From Bennington

    Study at Other Schools

    Some students design their academic plans so that academic work off-campus will be applied toward the Bennington baccalaureate degree. A student enrolling as a visiting student at another institution will not be able to transfer Bennington financial aid to help pay for the term(s) elsewhere. To cover administrative costs, a “transcript evaluation fee” is charged per term to returning Bennington students who request transfer of credits earned elsewhere.

    Note: As time away from Bennington may affect an international student’s visa status, plans should be discussed with the International Student Advisor.

    A Checklist for Students Studying Away

    1. Work with your academic advisor and the Dean’s Office to include the courses to be taken elsewhere as part of your degree program/academic Plan.
    2. Consult the International Student Advisor in the Dean of Students Office to find out how time away may affect your visa status.
    3. Discuss the financial impact of your term away with those helping you pay college bills. Note the different costs and unavailability of Bennington financial aid.
    4. Budget for the “transcript evaluation fee,” charged when you re-enter Bennington.
    5. Ensure that an academic transcript from your term(s) away are sent to the Dean’s Office no later than August 1 (for fall term return to Bennington) or February 1 (for spring term return).

    Leaves of Absence and Withdrawals

    Students who decide to withdraw or take an approved leave of absence should make an appointment for a loan exit interview in the Business Office.

    Aid students returning to Bennington after a period away must be in contact with both the Dean’s Office and the Financial Aid Office at least three months prior to re-entry. 

    Reapplying for Financial Aid

    A student’s eligibility is recalculated each year. After the new year, the Bennington Aid Renewal Application and the International Stu- dent Financial Aid application are available on the My Financial Aid pages. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that required forms are on file by the deadline.

    Financial aid will be allocated to returning students in the order in which complete applications are received by the Financial Aid Office. Aid funds are limited so late applicants may receive awards in which the grant amount is smaller, and in extreme cases, receive no grant at all. 

    Change in Circumstances

    Appeals Committee

    Any student who has applied for financial assistance has the right to appeal decisions regarding the allocation of financial aid. Questions about financial aid, as well as notification of dramatic changes in family circumstance, should be directed to the Financial Aid Office.

    Should students wish to appeal, they must submit a written request to the Financial Aid Appeals Committee (generally made up of representatives from the offices of the Dean, Student Life, Business, Admissions, and Financial Aid) stating specifically the basis of the appeal. All statements should be supported by appropriate documentation. Appeals concerning the determination of financial need must contain new or additional information which was not considered when the financial need was determined. June 30 (fall term) and January 15 (spring term) are the deadlines for filing appeals. 

    Graduate and Postbaccalaureate Financial Aid Handbook 

    Introduction

    College financial aid can seem like a maze of forms, regulations, and figures. Even students who have received financial aid in previous years find that a new year brings new questions. This handbook is designed to explain those regulations as well as the College’s procedures. It should be used in conjunction with personal contact with members of the Financial Aid Office staff.

    The Financial Aid Office is located in Barn 104 and is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm weekdays during the term; 8:30 am to 4:00 pm during the rest of the year. Students are welcome to stop by with questions at any time or to make an appointment with a staff member. 

    College Costs

    Direct and Indirect Costs

    A postbaccalaureate or graduate student’s Bennington College bill will show the tuition charge and other mandatory expenses. Budgeting for the full cost of a student’s academic year, however, requires planning for general expenses as well. These may include books and course supplies, transportation, and personal and living expenses; MATs should also take into account teacher certification charges. 

    Term Start-up Expenses

    For many students, most of the funds for books, supplies and personal expenses are needed at the beginning of a term, generally before the student can get an on-campus job and paycheck. A student should plan to arrive on campus with sufficient funds for books, supplies, and initial living expenses (at least $600). The first paycheck for students with on-campus jobs arrives nearly a month after classes begin. Students who will not work should anticipate needing at least $3,000 for books, supplies, and personal expenses during the year.

    Low-Residency Masters Programs

    For students in low-residency programs, education-related expenses can include only the program tuition and residency charge (with the exception of the writing program final residency, for which no aid is available) and an allowance for transportation, loan fees, and required books and supplies. Students cannot borrow to pay costs of room and board during their non-residency period and are therefore eligible to borrow amounts lower than the annual graduate maximum of $20,500. 

    Resources

    Financial aid awards for postbaccalaureate and graduate students indicate the maximum loan amounts available to those students. Students who wish to borrow less than the offered amount(s) should reduce the offered loan amount on their online aid award and indicate the amount of loan they wish to borrow.

    Students receiving funds such as employer-tuition benefits or outside scholarships are required to notify the Financial Aid Office of those resources. Outside resources may alter a student’s eligibility for loan funds.

    Scholarship search sites on the internet include: 

    Types of Assistance

    Bennington Tuition Assistantships

    A few master’s degree applicants are selected as graduate assistants. Their assistantship awards are applied against their tuition charges. As these awards represent payment for work performed, they are considered taxable income and are subject to FICA as well as state and federal tax. This income is reported on the recipient’s W-2 Wage and Tax Statement. All assistantship recipients will be required to complete an I-9 form stating eligibility to work in the United States, as well as a W-4 form indicating the amount to be withheld from the assistantship for state and federal taxes. These forms are available at the Bennington College Payroll Office. Bennington College will adjust the amount of the assistantship award applied against tuition by the amount of FICA tax required to be withheld on the income and by the amount of state and federal tax elected to be withheld. All assistantship recipients will receive specific information on withholding options from the Payroll Office after the start of the term.

    Bennington Graduate Teaching Grants and Scholarships, Postbaccalaureate Grants
    Some MATSL degree students may be awarded a teaching grant. These funds are awarded on the basis of need and academic merit and applied against tuition charges. The same is true of the grants offered to students in the postbaccalaureate program.

    Writing Program Scholarships/Grants

    These awards are made on the basis of merit and need to students in the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program. 

    Veterans Administration and Yellow Ribbon Benefits
     
    Beginning August 1, 2019, in accordance with the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act of 2018, students using Ch. 33 Post 9/11 GI Bill or Ch. 31 Voc Rehab benefits, even if the VA has not yet paid tuition and fees, will not be prevented from enrolling, assessed a late penalty fee, required to secure alternative or additional funding, or be denied access to any school resources (access to classes, libraries, or other institutional facilities) that are available to other students that have paid. Students will need to:
    • produce the VA’s Certificate of Eligibility by the first day of class,
    • provide written request to be certified, and
    • accept the benefits noted in their award on their My Financial Aid page

    Federal Education Loans

    The federal government offers three types of loans in support of graduate study:

    • Subsidized federal direct loan (note: postbaccalaureate students only): A student must demonstrate financial need for a subsidized Federal direct student loan. The federal government pays the interest on this loan until six months after a student graduates or ceases to be enrolled on at least a half-time basis. Congress has, for graduate students, abolished subsidized federal direct loans. Graduate loans are now unsubsidized student loans. Eligible post-baccalaureate students will continue to be offered subsidized federal student loans.

    • Unsubsidized federal direct student loan: There is no federal in-school interest subsidy on these loans, and borrowers make interest payments or capitalize interest due while they are in school. Capitalizing interest means that the interest a student owes (while in school and not making payments) is added to the total amount of the loan. See the Financial Aid Office staff for details.

    • Federal Direct PLUS loan: Parents of dependent post-baccalaureate students can borrow through the PLUS loan program. The annual maximum is the cost of attendance for the academic year minus any other financial aid received by the student. 

    Annual Maximums 

    • Master’s Degree Candidates: $20,500 or education costs for the year minus other aid, whichever is lower.
    • Independent Post-baccalaureates: $12,500 or education costs for the year minus other aid, whichever is lower.
    • Dependent Post-baccalaureates: $5,500* or education costs for the year minus other aid, whichever is lower.

    *Dependent postbaccalaureate students who need additional loan funds may ask their parents to borrow through the Federal Direct PLUS Loan program. Postbaccalaureate students may borrow through the Federal Direct Student Loan program for one academic year only. 

    MFA Writing Students’ Final Residency

    Because the fifth (and final) term of the writing program is the ten-day residency only, participants do not qualify for a federal student loan for that period.

    Applying for a federal student loan is a multi-step process.

    • The student files a financial aid application (including a FAFSA and institutional form) and receives an aid award establishing eligibility for a federal direct student loan. 
    • Once an aid award is calculated, the student accepts (or reduces or refuses) the loan amount on the My Financial Aid pages.
    • The student completes any additional required items such as FAFSA corrections using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, online loan counseling, and a new promissory note at https:// studentloans.gov, or the Student Loan Authorization Form, available after a login at My Financial Aid
    • Loan proceeds will be disbursed near the beginning of the academic term, after the student has fully registered for classes. 

    Applying for Federal Direct parent PLUS or Grad PLUS Loans

    Through the PLUS program, a parent of a dependent post-baccalaureate student may borrow up to the cost of attendance for the academic year minus any other financial aid.The parent completes the federal direct PLUS application, and, if a new borrower, a master promissory note at https://student loans.gov. If the loan is approved, funds are disbursed at the beginning of the academic terms.

    Required Loan Counseling—Entrance and Exit

    A first-time federal student loan borrower is required to complete loan entrance counseling at https://studentloans.gov. Borrowers must complete loan exit counseling at the same website before graduating, withdrawing, or taking a leave of absence from the College.

    Electronic Disbursement, Notification, Cancellation

    Student loans are transmitted to Bennington electronically. No funds will be credited to a student’s account unless the student has registered for classes, so it is important that the student complete registration as soon as possible. The borrower is notified when loan funds are credited to the student’s account. A student has 14 days, beginning the day of notification, to request that the loan be cancelled and the funds be returned, if desired.

    Disbursement Amounts

    When the loan period is a full academic year, half of the student or parent loan is disbursed each term. Borrowers who wish different amounts each term can take separate one-term loans. Federal loan regulations prohibit one-term loans for the MATSL program.

    Timing of Disbursements

    Standard-term Programs

    For MFA students, federal loans are disbursed in the first days of the term if the student

    • has completed all required aid paperwork by July 1 (fall entry) or by January 15 (spring entry).

    • is fully registered for classes before the term begins.

    Writing Program

    If loan paperwork is timely, loan proceeds arrive at Bennington on the first day of residency classes.

    MATSL Program

    Because the two terms of MATSL academic year are of very different lengths, this program is subject to a special federal student loan disbursement schedule. Half of the loan is disbursed in July for the summer term. The remaining half is disbursed halfway through the academic year calendar, in February. Bills for the nonresident term, however, are sent in August.

    MATSL students whose summer disbursement will not cover all summer charges and students who will pay non-resident term charges with the second (February) loan disbursement may contact the Business Office (business@bennington.edu) to arrange a payment contract accommodating the student disbursement schedule.

    Credit Balances

    Borrowers whose loans cover more than the balance due to Bennington College will have a credit balance after loan disbursement. A credit balance can be refunded to the student borrower within 14 days.

    Tracking, Managing, and Repaying Student Loans

    Repayment of a federal student loan begins six months after a borrower leaves school or graduates. The standard repayment period is ten years, though other options are available (including extended repayment, graduated repayment, income-contingent repayment, and income-based repayment). See http://www.finaid.org/calculator/, or http://www.direct.ed.gov/Calc/html. Check with your loan servicer, online or on the phone, for additional information about your qualifications. You will see your federal loan history – both federal Stafford loans and federal direct loans—on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). Parent PLUS loans do not appear there, except on a parent’s own NSLDS page. Logging in will require the borrower’s federal (FAFSA) PIN.

    If you are having repayment diffculties, contact your federal loan servicer. Your servicer’s name and contact information for each one of your federal loans appears on your NSLDS loan history page. Staying in contact with your loan servicer will ensure you stay on track for repayment.

    Private alternative loans are not included on NSLDS. To see all loan history—including both private loans AND federal loans, a student may request a copy of his/her credit report at https:// annualcreditreport.com. Enter your social security number and other authentication information (such as the lender for a particular credit or loan account, loan payment amount, or a previous address), and retrieve the loan information.

    Estimate what your monthly payment amount will be by using an online loan calculator. Note that a student who has borrowed the standard undergraduate maximum, $27,000, at a 6.4 percent interest rate would pay approximately $310 per month for ten years. A student who borrowed $10,000 would pay approximately $115 per month for 10 years. 

    Default Rate

    The three-year federal loan default rate for Bennington students was 2.9 percent for 2015.

    PLUS Loans

    Repayment of PLUS loans begins as soon as the loan is fully disbursed.

    Tax Deduction on Education Loan Interest

    According to federal regulations, up to $2,500 of annual interest paid on federal education loans (student or parent) is tax-deductible if certain conditions are met. More information is available from the IRS website, where publication #970, “Tax Benefits for Education,” can be found. 

    Student Loan Forgiveness

    Information on and links to loan forgiveness programs for volunteer work (Peace Corps, VISTA, Americorps) military service (Army National Guard), legal or medical services, teaching, and for loan repayment for federal agency employees is available from the following sites:

     

    www.finaid.org/loans/forgiveness.phtml

    (general information on loan forgiveness)

    http://www.finaid.org/loans/ibrfaq.phtml

    (loan forgiveness for employment in public service)

    www.staffordloan.com/repayment/forgiveness.php

    (general information on loan forgiveness) 

    www.opm.gov/oca/PAY/StudentLoan/index.asp

    (government employee loan repayment)

    www.aft.org/yourwork/tools4teachers/fundingdatabase/index.cfm

    (search loan forgiveness programs for teachers) 

    Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Borrower 

    When you accept a loan, you accept legal and financial responsibilities that last until the loan is repaid. Here’s a checklist of your responsibilities, as well as your rights as a borrower. 

    When you accept a student loan, you agree to:

    • repay your loan(s), including accrued interest and fees, whether or not you complete your education, complete the program within the regular time frame, obtain employment, or are satisfied with your education;
    • complete online exit counseling before you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment;
    • notify the current holder of your loan within 10 days if you change your name, address, or phone number, drop below half-time status, withdraw from school or transfer, or change your graduation date;
    • direct all correspondence to the current holder or servicer of your loan; 
    • make monthly payments on your loan after leaving school, unless you’re granted a deferment or forbearance;
    • notify the current holder of your loan of anything that might change your eligibility for an existing deferment. 

    As a student borrower, you have the right to: 

    • receive a disclosure statement before repayment on your loan begins, including information about interest rates, fees, loan balance, and the size and number of payments;
    • prepay all or part of your loans without a prepayment penalty;
    • apply for deferment of your loan payments for certain specified periods, as long as you’re eligible;
    • request forbearance if you’re unable to make payments and don’t qualify for deferment (you must qualify according to the loan holder’s requirements);
    • receive proof when your loan is paid in full. 

    Questions about your loans?

    Find your loan servicer: Go to the NSLDS, the National Student Loan Data System, at https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/. Use your FSA-ID pin to log in and see a list of all your federal student loans. A drill-down will allow you to see contact information. If you have difficulty, be in touch with the staff of Bennington’s financial aid offce, finaid@bennington.edu or 802-440-4325.

    Employment

    Required Paperwork

    Before students can receive any compensation from the College for work, including tuition assistantships, they must complete W-4 and I-9 forms, available in the Payroll Office, Barn 101. Completion of an I-9 form requires showing a passport or, alternatively, an original Social Security card or certified birth certificate and some form of picture identification card.

    Payment Arrangements

    Students with on-campus jobs (other than assistantships) must submit timesheets and are paid every two to three weeks for hours worked. Note: Because the first paycheck may not be disbursed until almost a month after the start of classes, students should arrive with sufficient funds for books, supplies, and initial living expenses. 

    Verification

    Verification is the required process of confirming information on which an aid award is based. It may include submitting required documentation, explanations, or confirmations such as an IRS Tax Return Transcript. Students complete the Verification process as early as possible before the school year begins, confirming aid eligibility.

    IRS Tax Return For Data Match

    U.S. income tax filers must now, per federal regulation, get direct IRS confirmation of their FAFSA tax information rather than submit copies of tax returns. The quickest and often simplest method is to use the IRS Tax Return Transcript, which can be requested approximately 2–3 weeks after e-filing or 8–11 weeks after paper filing. Go to irs.gov for transcript.

    Late Tax Returns

    Students who file late federal income tax returns submit:

    • a copy of the IRS Form 4686
    • copies of all W-2s
    • a copy of the IRS approval of the extension (if the return will be led after April 15)
    • a corrected FAFSA, confirmed using an IRS tax return transcript, showing the recently led tax information (after the tax return has been led)

    If appropriate, a student’s award will be adjusted once tax information is confirmed.

    Filing an Amended Tax Return

    An individual who files an amended IRS income tax return must provide both of the following:

    • A signed copy of the original IRS income tax return that was filed with the IRS or an IRS Tax Return Transcript; AND
    • A signed copy of the IRS Form 1040X, “Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” filed with the IRS, along with an IRS Tax Account Transcript. 
    Billing and Disbursement of Aid

    Before each term, the student will receive a bill from the Business Office. For students in the standard on-campus programs, all charges are expected to be paid by August 1 for the fall term and February 1 for the spring term. For standard term students, the College will permit a partial payment equal to 50 percent of the term’s charges due August 1 and February 1. Interest will be assessed at 1.5 percent per month on any outstanding balance, exclusive of financial aid, after these dates. Payment in full is due October 31 and April 30.

    Payment for low-residency writing program terms is due by mid- May and mid-December. For the MATSL program, payment is due June 1 for the summer residency and August 1 for the school year term.

    Federal and alternative loans and institutional grants and scholarships are credited to the student’s account after:

    • all aid paperwork is complete (including electronic forms such as the loan promissory note),
    • the award has been “accepted” (online, after a login on the My Financial Aid page),
    • the student has registered for classes, and
    • classes have begun.

    Outside scholarships and employee tuition benefits are credited to the account of an enrolled student when the proceeds are received.

    Any credit balance on a student’s account will be returned unless the student requests in writing that the College hold it to assist in managing funds for the following term. No interest on this credit balance will be paid to the student.

    Refund checks will be issued within 14 days after the credit balance occurs. 

    Withdrawal Policy

    Students who are receiving aid and withdraw from the College must provide official notification of intent to withdraw. Refunds of tuition and other payments, should there be any, will be based on the withdrawal notification date. For standard-term programs, official notice may be given by completing a withdrawal form and submitting it to the Office of the Dean, Barn 123, or the Dean of Students, Barn 113. (Office hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm during the term; 8:30 am to 4:00 pm during FWT and the summer.) A withdrawing student also may give oral notice to the Dean or the Registrar or, in the case of a medical withdrawal, the Dean of Students.

    The College requests that standard-term students who are withdrawing schedule an appointment with the Dean (802-440-4400).

    Master’s students in a low-residency program begin the withdrawal process by notifying the Dean’s Office at Bennington College. For a student withdrawing during the term, the date of withdrawal will be the date that the student officially notifies the school of intent to withdraw, unless the student has participated in an academically-related activity (such as attending a class, or turning in an assignment) at a later date. It is the withdrawal date that determines how much federal student aid a student has “earned” (by virtue of being enrolled and present) and how much must be returned per the federal “return-of-funds” calculation.

    For students who attend classes but withdraw from the College by the deadlines below; an adjustment is made to charges. In addition, a portion of aid funds received will be returned to sources according to institutional, federal and, where applicable, outside guidelines.

    Certain charges are nonrefundable, including fines (library, parking, maintenance, etc.), meal tickets, the health service charge, fees for health services provided, enrollment deposits for new matriculants, and interest charges due to late payment.

    Bennington Refund Policy

    Standard Term Programs

    Institutional policy requires an adjustment both to charges and to institutional aid for students who withdraw before the 21st class day of the fall or spring term. A standard-term student who withdraws during the first five days of the term is charged 25 percent of the term’s comprehensive fee (tuition, room and board). For students who withdraw after the first five class days but before the 11th class day, the charge is 50 percent. After the 10th day but before the 21st day of classes, the charge is 75 percent of the comprehensive fee. Withdrawals on or after the 21st day involve no adjustments to institutional charges. Aid recipients will have their institutional grants, scholarships, or fellowships adjusted at the same percentage rate as the charges are adjusted.

    Low Residency Programs

    The withdrawal policies for the low-residency writing program and the low-residency teaching program are sent to participants with the first bill for the term. Statements of these policies are also available from the Business Office at Bennington College.

    Return of Federal Funds

    A portion of federal aid must be refunded to its sources if a recipient withdraws before or at the point at which the term is 60 percent over. Regulations specify the amount of “earned” and “unearned” federal aid according to the percentage of term days completed before withdrawal; the amount of federal funding to be returned is calculated accordingly. The calculated federal refund is returned to the aid programs in the order shown below. For example, a student whose award included an unsubsidized student loan would have the federal refund amount returned to that program. If the refund amount were greater than the unsubsidized loan borrowed for that term, the remaining funds would be returned to the programs next on the list (from which the student had received funds for the term).

    1. Federal Unsubsidized Student Loan
    2. Federal Subsidized Student Loan
    3. Federal PLUS Loan
    4. Other Title IV student assistance

    Withdrawals During the Term

    Withdrawing students should be aware that a departure during the academic term will have implications for the financial aid they are receiving and for the amount due Bennington College. Recipients of federal aid such as federal direct student loans and Grad PLUS loans will find that these must be returned on a pro-rata basis unless a student is withdrawing more than 60 percent into the term. In general, this means that if a student withdraws 25 percent of the way into the term, approximately 75 percent of federal aid will be returned to its sources. This may leave a student owing money, possibly a substantial amount, for the academic term. Contact the Financial Aid Office (Barn 104 or finaid@bennington.edu) for more information.

    In addition, according to Bennington’s standards of academic progress, students who receive financial aid for a term in which they withdraw and thus receive no academic credit do not make satisfactory academic progress. See the section on “Reinstatement After Loss of Aid Eligibility.”

    Withdrawing students who have received education loans are required to do an online exit interview (https://studentloans.gov) using the FAFSA pin to log in. Once students have withdrawn, their loan deferment status will change. 

    Terms and Conditions of the Financial Aid Award

    The financial aid award is subject to the following terms and conditions:

    1. At Bennington College, financial aid awards are determined in accordance with principles and regulations established by the College and by the federal government.
    2. Because the financial aid award may be determined without knowledge of other aid the student may receive, individual portions of the aid award may be adjusted if other aid is received.
    3. Any scholarship/grant assistance received in excess of the amount of tuition, fees, and required books and supplies must be reported as gross income on a federal income tax return.
    4. Federal regulations require that a student receiving financial aid from federal sources maintain satisfactory academic progress (see below).
    5. Federal law requires that prior to receipt of any federal student aid funds, each male student must register with the Selective Service, or indicate the reason he is not subject to registration. Male students who do not do so cannot receive federal funds.
    6. Current legislation specifies that federal Title IV aid eligibility is suspended for a student convicted of violating any federal or state drug possession or drug sale law. Any person convicted of such a crime must indicate such in the FAFSA. Bennington College has substance abuse prevention programs. Details are available in the Student Life Office.
    7. No financial aid is available for studies beyond those required by the College for graduation. Elective additional work will not be funded.
    8. Aid recipients must ensure that all aid application materials they submit are true and correct. Should an amended return be filed, a copy must be sent immediately to Bennington College and an IRS “tax account statement” must be ordered and forwarded to that office so that aid eligibility can be reviewed. Failure to do so jeopardizes aid.
    9. Bennington will not award aid to an applicant (or applicant’s family) who does not file a U.S. tax return by the federal deadlines, if required by law to do so.
    10. Applicants who are in default on a federal student loan and who have not made satisfactory repayment arrangements enabling them to borrow again cannot receive aid at Bennington College.
    11. 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. 
    Federal Aid and Students Convicted of Drug Offenses 

    Current law specifies that federal Title IV aid eligibility is suspended if a student is convicted of violating any federal or state drug possession or drug sale law. Any person convicted of such a crime must notify the Financial Aid Office and also indicate such on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

    The FAFSA includes question 23, “Have you been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, loans, or work-study)?” A student who answers “yes” to this question will be required, through the FAFSA process, to complete the federal “Worksheet for Question 23” to determine the length of his/her ineligibility for federal aid. This worksheet can be found on the Forms Library tab of My Financial Aid on the Bennington website.

    The length of ineligibility for federal student aid varies for students convicted of a drug offense while receiving federal aid. A conviction for “conspiring” to sell drugs is included in the category of a conviction for the sale of drugs. If a student is convicted both of possessing and of selling drugs, and the periods of eligibility are different, the student will be ineligible for a longer period.

    Students regain eligibility the day after the period of ineligibility ends or when they successfully complete a qualified drug rehabilitation program. Further drug convictions will make students again ineligible for federal financial aid.

    Students denied eligibility for an indefinite period can regain it only if they successfully complete a rehabilitation program (as described earlier) or if a conviction is reversed, set aside, or removed from the student’s record so that fewer than two convictions for sale or three convictions for possession remain on the record. In such cases, the nature and dates of the remaining convictions will determine when the student regains eligibility. It is the student’s responsibility to certify completion of the rehabilitation program.

    A qualified drug rehabilitation program must include at least two unannounced drug tests and must satisfy at least one of the following requirements:

    • Be qualified to receive funds directly or indirectly from a federal, state, or local government program;
    • Be qualified to receive payment directly or indirectly from a federally or state-licensed insurance company; 
    • Be administered or recognized by a federal, state, or local government agency or court; or
    • Be administered or recognized by a federally or state-licensed hospital, health clinic, or medical doctor.

    Bennington College offers substance abuse prevention programs. Details are available in the Dean of Student’s Office. 

    Satisfactory Academic Progress and Financial Aid Eligibility

    Federal regulations require that students receiving federal financial aid (including loans) make satisfactory progress in their education program. Students who do not do so cannot continue receiving federal financial aid.

    Masters of Fine Arts, Standard-term Students

    See the Dean’s Office for more information.

    Masters of Fine Arts in Writing

    Continued eligibility for financial aid for Bennington’s MFA in Writing program is based on satisfactory academic progress and is evaluated at the end of each term, both in qualitative terms (Pass, Marginal Pass, Fail) and in quantitative terms (number of credits completed over number of credits attempted).

    All writing program students are considered full-time, taking 16 credits per term. No partial credit for a term is awarded; students who receive an incomplete will be considered to have earned no credit unless the incomplete is replaced by a grade of Pass or Marginal Pass per terms of the incomplete status. A total of 64 credits is needed to fulfill the degree. Students are evaluated at the end of each five-month term.

    A writing program student must earn a grade of Pass for the term to be making “satisfactory academic progress” for purposes of financial aid eligibility. Aid students who do not earn a Pass may continue to receive financial aid for the succeeding term in “financial aid warning” status. At the end of that warning term, the student must earn an evaluation of Pass to continue to receive financial aid.

    Only one term on “financial aid warning” is permitted, so that any succeeding evaluations of marginal pass, fail, or an incomplete that is not changed into a pass will make the student ineligible for further financial aid.

    The MFA in Writing program is a full-time, low-residency program, encompassing four five-month terms and one final 10-day residency. In extenuating circumstances, such as student illness, injury, or death in the family, a student with an otherwise satisfactory academic record who did not complete or receive credit for one term may be authorized by the Director to take five full terms, rather than four, to complete the program.

    Quality of Academic Performance

    Every student’s progress is evaluated by assigning grades and by reviewing the consistency of performance in other areas. Those elements determine a student’s academic status—Good Academic Standing (including Academic Notice), Academic Warning, Academic Probation, or Dismissal.

    Academic Pace

    MATSL students must satisfactorily complete all courses (a total of 13 courses) and generally complete the program in four terms, though the maximum allowed is five terms. In some circumstances, students may be allowed to take less than a full course load, though there may be implications for financial aid eligibility.

    In addition, a MATSL student with financial aid must maintain a minimum ratio of cumulative MATSL credits earned to MATSL credits attempted. (Course withdrawals, incompletes, and failures are considered credits attempted but not completed.) A student not earning the minimum required ratio of credits earned over credits attempted will be placed on Financial Aid Warning.

    Financial Aid Warning and Aid Eligibility

    A student in Financial Aid Warning status may continue to receive financial aid. At the end of that warning term, that student must regain “Good Standing” or lose financial aid eligibility.

    In unusual circumstances, it may be mathematically impossible for a student on Warning to return to Good Standing in just one term. In such a case, the student may request that aid be continued by filing an appeal. The program director will review the student’s request and academic record, and, upon approval, will place the student on Academic Probation and work with the student to outline a special academic plan. The plan will specify the conditions for regaining Good Standing, as soon as possible. The student on this plan must meet all conditions of the plan each term in order to continue on financial aid. No second appeal is permitted.

    Students on Financial Aid Warning may continue to receive financial aid only if, at the end of the warning term, they

    • return to Good Academic Standing, or
    • (if it is mathematically impossible to return to Good Academic Standing in the one warning term) have led an appeal that is successful, are placed on Academic Probation and, in subsequent terms, continue to meet the requirements of the academic plan approved by the program director and the student. 

    Post-Baccalaureate Students

    Post-baccalaureate students must complete this program within one year, including the summer term, and can receive financial aid for a maximum of one year. Academic progress is evaluated at the end of each post-bac term—summer, fall, and spring.

    Students are expected to:

    • attempt and complete at least 12 credits each term (unless they have prior permission from the Dean’s Office for a reduced schedule), and
    • earn a cumulative grade point average per term of at least 3.0.

    A student who does not meet these standards is put on a status of Financial Aid Warning for the following term. After that term, the student must regain good standing—in terms of credits earned and cumulative GPA—in order to continue receiving financial aid. 

    Reapplying for Financial Aid

    Financial aid based on need is awarded for one academic year at a time. The student must reapply each year; Bennington’s renewal of aid instructions are available online. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all required forms have been received by the Financial Aid Office in time to determine eligibility and process loan applications.