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What is financial aid?

Financial aid is designed to bridge the gap between the resources of students and their families and the cost of attending VanderCook College of Music. Although VanderCook’s tuition costs are less than those of many colleges and universities, parents and students may need help meeting yearly expenses.

VanderCook College of Music awards financial assistance to 99% of its undergraduate students.

Our Financial Aid Office will work with you to make your education at VanderCook College affordable. At VanderCook College of Music, we realize that no two families are the same, and our Financial Aid Office will work with you to create a financial assistance plan and payment plan to meet your educational expenses. VCM Financial Aid staff help in both the search for financial aid and the application process. Be aware that specific deadlines and refund requirements apply to financial aid applicants and can affect eligibility.

What types of aid are available?

A grant is a type of “gift aid” that does not need to be paid back. The amount awarded is usually based on financial need and is generally provided by the federal government, state government and/or VanderCook College of Music.

VanderCook Grants:

  • VCM Future Teacher Grant
  • VCM H.E. Nutt Academic Excellence Grant
  • VCM Need Grant
  • VCM Dean’s List Grant

Federal & State Grants:

A scholarship is a type of “gift aid” that rewards a student for grades, talent, financial need or a specific career interest. Scholarships do not typically need to be repaid, although some scholarships have program requirements and/or obligations.

VanderCook Scholarships:

  • VCM Talent Scholarship
  • VCM James E. Clark Scholarship (for students from Georgia)
  • VCM Lew and Gerry Schmidt Instrumental Music Education Scholarship (for students from Wisconsin)
  • VCM Alumni Association Award
  • VCM Esprit de Corps Award

Other Scholarships:

  • Wisconsin Music Educators Association Scholarship (for students from Wisconsin)
  • Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program
  • Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois

A loan is a type of “self-help” aid that allows you to borrow money from banks or other lending institutions. Since it’s “self-help” aid, it must be paid back with added interest. Loans can be awarded based on financial need (subsidized loans) or not on financial need (unsubsidized loans, PLUS loans, and alternative loans). Your loan eligibility will be determined after your grants and scholarships have been considered.

Types of Loans:

  • Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan(borrowed by the student)
  • Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan (borrowed by the student)
  • PLUS Loan (borrowed by the parent)
  • Graduate PLUS Loan (borrowed by the graduate student)
  • Alternative Loan (borrowed by the student)

Borrowers for PLUS and alternative loans are subject to a credit check by the lending institution (loans will be denied to borrowers with adverse credit).

Student Employment is an “earn while you learn” program. VanderCook College of Music participates in the Federal Work Study program, and also offers employment opportunities to help cover the cost of attending college. Awards are given to students who demonstrate the greatest financial need. Most awards are given as tuition reduction, but some jobs are available for hourly pay. Eligibility requirements vary for each type of assistance, so all students are encouraged to apply.

How is my financial need determined?

Aid from federal and state aid programs is awarded on the basis of Financial Need (except for Unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans). When you apply for student aid the information reported on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your Financial Need is determined using the following equation:

Cost of Attendance (determined by the school)
– Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
= Financial Need

How do I apply for financial aid?

STEP 1 - Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on-line at FAFSA on the web at:
  • List VanderCook College of Music Title IV Code 001778 on your application. The processor will mail you your Student Aid Report (SAR) in 2-3 weeks. Start the process as early as you can. Check your SAR for any errors.
  • Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be calculated when your FAFSA is processed. The formula used to calculate your EFC is used to measure your family’s financial strength based on their income, assets and number of students attending college.
  • The FASFA will be available in October starting 2016.

STEP 2 - Complete your application materials and audition for admission to VanderCook.

Items required for admission include:

  • Completed application
  • Application essay
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Final high school transcript or GED certificate
  • Signed acceptance letter

STEP 3 - Schedule an appointment with the VanderCook Financial Aid Office.

  • Bring  any requested documents with you to your meeting. 
  • An estimate of state and federal awards will be provided. Possible VCM awards will be discussed along with any special circumstances your family may have.
  • Parents and students will be provided an initial estimate of their aid, including loan eligibility and amounts. A final aid award will be provided when the student has completed the application, audition process, and has submitted thier deposit.

STEP 4 - Review and sign your finalized financial aid award letter.

After all admissions and financial aid items are complete, a financial aid award letter will be mailed to you.

  • Review your awards and loan amounts.
  • Submit any required verification documents to the financial aid office (if requested)
  • Schedule a follow-up appointment to resolve any other financial aid questions you may have.
  • Return your signed financial aid award letter to the financial aid office.

Other Payment Options

Tuition and Fee Payments by Term

  • All payments of tuition and fees are to be completed before the start of classes. Arrangements for any payment option should be made with the college business manager prior to the start of the academic year or new academic term.

Federal Refund Policy Return of Title IV (R2T4)

The federal government mandates that students who withdraw from all classes may only keep the financial aid they have "earned" up to the time of withdrawal. Title IV funds that were disbursed in excess of the earned amount must be returned by VanderCook and/or the student to the federal government. This situation could result in the student owing aid funds to VanderCook, the government, or both.

In general, the law assumes that the student must "earn" federal financial aid awards directly in proportion to the number of days of the semester the student attended.  In other words, a student earns financial assistance as they attend class.  If a student completely withdraws from all classes during a semester, VanderCook must calculate the portion of the total scheduled financial assistance earned. If the student received (or the college received on behalf of the student) more assistance than earned, the unearned excess funds must be returned to the federal programs.

To determine the amount of aid the student has earned up to the time of withdrawal, the Financial Aid Office will divide the number of calendar days the student attended classes by the total number of calendar days in the semester (less any scheduled breaks of five days or more).  The resulting percentage is then multiplied by the total federal funds that were disbursed (either to the student's account or to the student directly by check for the semester.  This calculation determines the amount of aid earned by the student that he can keep. However, VanderCook and/or the student must return the unearned amount (total aid disbursed less the earned amount) to the federal government. The Financial Aid Office will provide instructions to students who are required to return funds to the government.

Allocating Returned Title IV (Federal) Aid

Funds that are returned to the federal government are used to reduce the outstanding balances in individual federal programs. Financial aid returned must be returned in the following order:

  • Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
  • Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan
  • Federal PLUS Loan (Parent/Graduate Loan)
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal SEOG
  • Other Federal Loan or Grant Assistance

VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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