Posts tagged financial aid

Don’t be Afraid of Financial Aid

We’ve gotten a lot of ?’s about financial aid recently because money can be $cary. We totally get it and also scared too. Only human over here though we seem cyber.

Speaking of humans, our first piece of advice is to call financial aid. Talking to humans and not computers can also be scary but they’ll be able to help you on an individual basis way better than we can. Their digits are 802-440-4325. This is a great idea for all questions. Self advocacy can be fun!

That being said we can give you some more general info:

Merit aid is based on the strength of the total application not just a student’s grades or test scores (so maybe your art portfolio made us rethink existence or something). Upon applying, all students are considered for need and merit based scholarships, no extra paperwork necessary beyond the FAFSA and other federal documentation you’d be filling out already.

in 2012-13, 90% of first-year students received a grant or scholarship, the average award being $25,791. And that’s money you don’t have to repay.

Are there hidden costs? I’d look at our budget here. I’d also just say that it is easy to not spend money on campus. I don’t carry cash and I’ve gone weeks before without spending a dime.

Field Work Term? I can’t predict how much it will cost for you. Grants are available. But also, if money is a concern, do something where you will make money, even if it isn’t the dream. It will still be a great experience. You aren’t required to fly to France, you can live with Mom and Dad.

alan & emily!

I was accepted but with the financial aid I was offered there is no way I could afford to go, but I still really want to go here. Is it possible to appeal for more aid and if so how would one go about doing so? Thank you. — Asked by Anonymous

Hey, 

I know money can be stressful - yes, you can appeal. Talk to you counselor (if you don’t know who that is check here) and he or she can help guide you through the process. 

-Glennis

I got accepted and Bennington would be my top choice, however my financial package is not optimal and all of my other colleges are estimating at least half of the expenses Bennington is (one is covering full tuition+books, etc.+intercontinental flights). I come from a low economic background and I can't imagine giving this burden to my family when I have easier options-- basically I just wanted to express my sadness and tell you guys you're super-awesome and I would LOVE to come next year :( — Asked by Anonymous

Don’t give up yet!

Your financial aid package isn’t final, and if it doesn’t work for you, you should get in touch with your counselor and see if you can figure something else out. Of course the financial aid office can’t guarantee anything, but they’ll do their best to help.

— sarah ‘14

Can you please explain to me how the health insurance works at Bennington? I have read all the info in the webpage but it does not mention anything about the cost or whether it is different for int. students. I am trying to give my family a number of what exactly they would be expected to contribute but I cant because I do not know about the health insurance since it is not mentioned in the financial aid worksheet. Please help me. — Asked by Anonymous

Okay so — I know how stressful figuring out money stuff is, but you should know that the school is totally all about helping you find a way to make it all work. As an international student (from Pakistan), I use the Bollinger insurance we get through the school, and pay $688 a term in addition to what I pay for tuition and all that. In my experience, Bennington goes out of its way to accommodate international students and the situation is usually not as dire as it seems.

Nick Forcier (nforcier@bennington.edu), who handles all the international applications, will be happy to walk you through the process and see if we can’t wrangle a way to make it easier.

Let us know if you have any more questions!

— sarah ‘14

Hi there, I am Nayeem-an international applicant applying under the regular decision. So far people from Bennington College have been the most friendly ones I have encountered. And the more I read about Bennington the more I grow feelings for it. I feel it will be a perfect fit for me. Now the thorn in my way is my financial need. It's creating an anxiety day by day. So I was just wondering if there's someone like me in tapped in who got in with similar circumstances-just for the peace of mind. — Asked by Anonymous

Hey Nayeem!

As a fellow international student, I can try to give you some peace of mind. I didn’t consider attending (or even applying to) Bennington because I had so many worries about my financial need and my potential financial aid. This was a mistake! My advice is this: DO NOT WORRY. If you have a strong desire to come to this school, or any school, do not let financial need prevent you from even trying. You’re allowed to be excited, you’re allowed to grow feelings for a school, but try to not let the financial woes bring you down! Calm down, take a deep breath, and don’t worry! I know how stressful this process can be, but I can assure you that worrying too much about it won’t help anyone, especially yourself and your ~inner peace of mind~.

Once you have your financial aid package figured out, feel free to contact the Financial Aid Office if you want to talk about different options and/or ways to improve your aid.

STAY POSITIVE NAYEEM, EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY!

~Carlos ‘14

What is the highest possible scholarship awarded? how much is it for? — Asked by Anonymous

The highest possible scholarship would be a full scholarship. The college can’t guarantee that everyone’s financial needs will be met in their entirety but it’ll certainly do its best. Financial aid packages go out around the same time as offers of admission, and if there’s something about the amount or the structure that doesn’t work for you, you can totally get in touch with a counselor and see if you can’t work something else out.

Of course, resources are limited, we get so many great and deserving applicants, aaaand you know how it is, really. The important thing is that financial aid is a conversation and absolutely up for discussion. 

Hope that helps.

— sarah ‘14

How much do students usually pay to go away for Field Work Term? — Asked by Anonymous

As much as they want. I actually made money on my first two FWTs, and my most recent one could have been free if I didn’t love the Pad Thai place down the street from where I work so much. Granted, I wasn’t exactly living the FWT dream, but I have this theory that the FWT dream is kind of a lie. You can learn a lot even if you are in your hometown and not France. But Parke also went to France for free one time (grant + living with family), so you just have to be so so crafty.

I just asked everyone if the amount of money they spent on their FWTs correlated to the quality of the experience:

Alan: no
Sarah: yes
Anushka: yes
Eliana: “not really”
Chloe: no

-Alan ‘15

Hey, sorry if this is a dumb question, but does bennington ever provide art supplies to visual art students? Or are students responsible for buying them themselves? — Asked by Anonymous

Hey, not a dumb question at all. The answer depends mostly on which class you’d be taking. Certain visual arts classes come with a studio fee- usually classes such as ceramics or sculpture that require enough bulk material sustain 14 weeks of students building and discarding works. Others, such as web design or critical photographic theory, might require a few tools, but are typically cheaper. Bennington College does provide quite a bit of material support for students in the form of loaner cameras and tools, as well as over half a dozen visual arts studios. 

Keep in mind that many visual arts practices are material-intensive, whether for a class or just as a solo endeavor. Most of these fees and associated costs, however, aren’t any higher than what you’d see at a community college. Also, visual arts classes have an added advantage over, say, social science, in that they give you an opportunity to create useful and fun items you can keep for years. I’m still drinking coffee out of a mug I made in a ceramics class- I can’t exactly say the same about my anthropology paper from the same term.

-Nick ‘14

Do transfer students get as much money in merit scholarships and general financial aid as freshman applicants? I currently have a full ride at my state school and I was wondering if something like that was possible at Bennington. — Asked by Anonymous

Transfer students are considered for exactly the same aid, both need- and merit-based, as first year students. We’re not able to guarantee full scholarships but our financial aid is very competitive. If you’re accepted, you’ll receive your aid package with your offer of admission, and the amount and structure isn’t set in stone. Aid at Bennington is a conversation and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.

-sarah

I had a bit of a crisis. I love Bennington with all my heart and I know it's the right school for me. There are daily tears of joy/sadness/ about Bennington; I've never been so emotional. But there's just no way I can afford it. I'm nervous that I'm putting all my energy into a school I can't pay for without making my family uncomfortable. I don't qualify for need-based. There is merit, but thats not guaranteed. I'm just so nervous. Any words of advice? Even a joke to make me feel better? XO — Asked by Anonymous

Start by listening to this Sharon Van Etten song because she just makes everything okay and really understands what it’s like:

No. Stop reading and listen to the music. I knew you were going to just play it in the background and then keep reading. But don’t do that. Listen to the music.

Okay, anyway: just hang tight. You’re still eligible for merit aid; and the good news is, we give merit aid out to people. Like actually. And because we get to know you as a person and not a number (from your tour, interview, portfolio, paper, essays, etc.) the aid decision isn’t based on arbitrary data like SAT scores. There is no use in worrying about the price — in my opinion — until you know what it will be for you. Make the call then.

Alan ‘15

Hi guys! I've submitted and completed the Early Decision I application because Bennington is obviously my top choice and I'm really excited about coming here. However, after I submitted my application I started hearing about the negative sides of applying Early Decision, such as, I won't get a large financial aid package because they know how badly I want to come to the school. Can anyone of you attest to this? Did anyone apply Early Decision and received only little financial aid? — Asked by Anonymous

Don’t worry. You are excited about Bennington, we are excited that you are excited. Bennington is committed to making an education here feasible for anyone and everyone who should be studying here. While we unfortunately can’t meet all need all the time, the college does it’s best (and from personal experience, they come pretty darn close.) Students who apply Early Decision don’t get any more or less kudos than those who don’t in the eyes of the financial aid office. As someone who applied ED, I got a pretty generous package and don’t think it was affected in anyway by my ED status. So just don’t stress about it. And please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the financial office with any questions or concerns.

- Sarah ‘15

http://25.media.tumblr.com/e353a9ae413f1a5b886231da3157da9c/tumblr_miip7gm0FK1s306ffo1_400.gif

On the Bennington website, it says that the financial aid deadline for Early Action applicants is December 15th and March 15th for the US. I was wondering which date pertained to admittance into the Fall 2014 term. — Asked by Anonymous

Hullo!

SO, they actually both pertain to the Fall 2014 term. How it works is that there’s a sort of unofficial financial aid profile that you fill out by December 15th which gives us a feel for your financial situation, and which we use to give you an estimate of your financial aid package. Then by March 15th you send in your FAFSA information with all the official documents, which is when we notify you about the actual amount of your package. We do this because the necessary documents we need from you are not available until January 1st.

Sayonara and good luck!

Chloe ‘16

Do you know how much the average student pays for Bennington? The website says around 45k a year. I would love to attend to Bennington, but my parents are telling me to chuck it, since it's such an expensive school and we do not make that much money. — Asked by Anonymous

I think the figure you were looking at was the Bennington tuition, which excluding room and board is $44,490.  If I’m off, please let me know, but that’s the only 45k figure I can find on the site.

So, the reality of this is, Bennington, along with most private, small liberal arts schools, is a very expensive school.  But here are a few numbers that might help.  Ninety-five percent of Bennington students receive aid.  The average aid package is $36,660 yearly, which includes scholarships, work study, and loans.  The average grant or scholarship award is $25,791 yearly, and that’s money you and your parents won’t have to worry about later.  Some packages are quite a bit more than that.  Bennington students graduate with an average of $25,716 in debt, which is roughly a few thousand lower than the national average.  

So, as someone who also had to think very hard about the cost of Bennington, here’s what I advise.  Sit down with your parents and figure out together how much you can afford to contribute to your education between the three of you.  Apply to Bennington, and if you’re accepted, we’ll send you our offer of a financial aid package, complete with our advice about federal loans etc.  If it matches with what you can do, great.  If not, go over your stuff again, get in touch with the financial aid office, and see if, working together, you can figure out how to make up the gap.  They really do want to help you come here.  While we can’t guarantee it’ll work out, we’ll do our best by you.

-Ray ‘15

May I ask how much do people generally pay? Does financial aid work? I'm worried that I might not be able to pay for Bennington, since it is out of state. The other person's ask about not being able to attend due to money issues makes me a bit anxious. — Asked by Anonymous

I just checked the Bennington website to make sure but it looks like our current tuition is set at $44,490. But please don’t let this number scare you. I had very similar concerns when applying to Bennington. The website goes on to offer the following fear-quellers:

The College offers several kinds of financial assistance: merit scholarships, need-based grants, loans, and work study. We recognize that every family’s financial situation is unique and we work closely with students to explore a full range of options for financing their education.

My advice to you is to apply regardless of the price tag, you can never know what kind of aid you could receive and Bennington is very much committed to working with students when it comes down to monetary facts and figures. It’s always, always, always worth applying. If I’d written off Bennington because of tuition, I never would’ve gotten here at all.

For more specific information I’d suggest giving the Financial Aid office a call: 800-833-6845 or 802-440-4325 or you can also shoot them an email at finaid@bennington.edu

Good luck!

—Ananda ‘16

I got into Bennington last year, but couldn't attend due to expenses, even after financial aid and scholarships. Now I'm somewhere else, but my thoughts drift to this school. Is there any way I could transfer to Bennington at about $12,000 or cheaper? That's my parents' approximate limit per year. — Asked by Anonymous

Hey!

I had a similar issue upon my acceptance at Bennington.  I encourage you to get in contact with the folks in the Office of Financial Aid.  They will at least be able to shed some light on your current financial standing and the likelihood of you receiving more aid.  Those folks in Financial Aid can sometimes make magic happen!  Of course, you will have to reapply to the school as a transfer student.  But it never hurts for you to start the conversation now.  Best of luck!  

Office of Financial Aid:
802-442-5401 (ext. 4325)

- Jeremy ‘16