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10 Years of Impact

About

In 2008, as the nation fell into the grip of a devastating financial crisis and many other universities reduced their commitment to financial aid, Vanderbilt stood firm to deliver on a bold new promise …

To meet the financial needs of every undergraduate enrolled at the university—without loans.

Now, 10 years later, the financial access program known as Opportunity Vanderbilt is in full swing and delivering groundbreaking results. Here is how it continues to change lives.

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Financial Impact

1 Total Amount Raised

$33.9 Million

in 2008

 vs. 

$400+ Million

in 2018

Amount Raised Animation: Cash Piling Up
Amount Raised Animation: Coins Piling Up

Alumni and other donors have responded enthusiastically to Opportunity Vanderbilt during the past decade, helping drive a 10-fold increase in funding for the program, totaling $400 million and counting.

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2 Average Financial Aid Package

$37,553

in 2008–2009

 vs. 

$51,787

in 2018–2019

Since Opportunity Vanderbilt began, the average financial aid package has grown 40 percent to $51,787, helping defray costs for undergraduates. Overall, Vanderbilt has provided $1.2 billion in financial aid during the life of the program.

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3 Decrease in Need-Based Loans

1,407

before 2008

 vs. 

435

in 2018

Decreased Loans Animation: An arrow points down
Decreased Loans Animation: A large group of people shrinks to a few
Decreased Loans Animation: A graph reveals the dropping number of need-based loans over time

One of Opportunity Vanderbilt’s key goals is to replace student loans with grants and scholarships. In the decade since the program began, the number of students taking out need-based loans has plummeted nearly 70 percent.

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Will Gordon
a senior at Peabody College, member of the golf team, and recipient of the Loomis Family Golf Scholarship, Morgan Family Golf Scholarship and Deeg Sezna Scholarship

My scholarships make it possible for me to thrive here both on the course and in the classroom.

As a student-athlete, balancing priorities like managing my academic workload, class schedule and travel to tournaments can be a challenge. My scholarships make it possible for me to thrive here both on the course and in the classroom. Vanderbilt is committed to making sure you’re as much a student as you are an athlete.

Jeremiah Woldabezgi
a sophomore in the School of Engineering and an inaugural member of the Clark Scholars program

I’ve always liked to tinker. The magic of creation has always been the most stable factor in my life.

I’ve always liked to tinker. The magic of creation has always been the most stable factor in my life. From staying with my grandparents in Ethiopia to a children’s home and foster care in the U.S. — the joy of taking something broken and making it new has always kept me going and always will.

Ananya Sharma
a senior in the College of Arts and Science and a recipient of the Schiff Family Scholarship

I’ve made friends, met mentors, and been supported by a caring environment.

I plan to go to medical school, so getting a great undergraduate education without loans was important for me and my family. In addition to the financial support, the people at Vanderbilt have been wonderful.

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Academic Quality

4 Increase in Applications

16,944

in 2008

 vs. 

34,313

in 2018

Applications Animation: A short stack of applications next to a tall stack
Applications Animation: A line of dots jumps from the top of a short stack of applications to the top of a tall stack

Opportunity Vanderbilt has played a vital role in helping attract talented students from many geographic locations and socioeconomic backgrounds. This effort has led to a boom in undergraduate applications, which in turn has made Vanderbilt one of the most selective universities in the country.

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5 Rise in Rankings Among National Universities

No. 18

in 2008–2009

 vs. 

No. 14

in 2018–2019

A number 14 flag raised over Kirkland Hall

During the decade since Opportunity Vanderbilt launched, the university’s national and international rankings have risen. For the past two years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Vanderbilt No. 14 among U.S. universities—its highest ranking to date.

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6 Students Ranked at the Top of Their Classes

90%

of 2018 applicants

A star with text: 'Top 10 percent of High School Class'

As the university has attracted many more applicants as a result of Opportunity Vanderbilt, the university also has seen the number of students ranked at the top of their graduating high school classes climb to 90 percent during the past decade.

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Economic Access

7 Families Helped Through Opportunity Vanderbilt

$109,196

2018 Average Family Income

Average Income Animation: A Piggy Bank
Average Income Animation: Piggy Banks stacked on the previous Piggy Bank
Average Income Animation: Another Piggy Bank added to the stack
Average Income Animation: Two more Piggy Banks piled on top of an ever growing stack of Piggy Banks
Average Income Animation: Piggy Banks keep stacking up
Average Income Animation: A tiny Piggy Bank to top off the stack

Vanderbilt is committed to helping families at all income levels, including the middle class. Today the average annual family income of students receiving Opportunity Vanderbilt scholarships is nearly $110,000.

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8 Undergrads Receiving Aid

65.3%

in 2018

Undergraduate carrying piggybank under their arm

At the same time the average amount awarded through Opportunity Vanderbilt has increased, so too has the number of undergraduates receiving some form of aid.

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9 Pell Grant Eligibility

11%

before 2008

 vs. 

15%

in 2018

Grant Eligibility Animation: Acceptance letter opening
Grant Eligibility Animation: Arrow pointing up

As top universities work to increase the economic diversity of their undergraduates, they gauge their effectiveness by the number of students who are financially eligible to receive federal Pell grants. At Vanderbilt that number has grown to 15 percent, which played a key role in the university being named No. 1 for Best Financial Aid by The Princeton Review in 2018.

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Nicholas S. Zeppos
Chancellor

Talent and promise recognize no social, cultural, economic or geographic boundaries.

We announced Opportunity Vanderbilt a decade ago, based on our commitment to accessibility, affordability and diversity. Our goal was to attract and convene a diverse, global intellectual community eager to solve the major problems facing society. Talent and promise recognize no social, cultural, economic or geographic boundaries, and we wanted ability–not the ability to pay–to be the path to Vanderbilt’s world-class education.

Susan R. Wente
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Each year the incoming first-year class is even stronger than the last.
 

Each year the incoming first-year class is even stronger than the last. For the class of 2020, nearly all were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, and all are demonstrated leaders—in academics, service, athletics or the arts. Our faculty are energized by the ever-rising quality and curiosity of our student body, providing a fertile ground for learning and discovery.

Susie S. Stalcup
Vice Chancellor for Development
and Alumni Relations

Today, Opportunity Vanderbilt reflects the values of our alumni, parents and friends …

More than a decade ago, our community of support came together to start something that not only changed the lives of so many students but also the university. Today, Opportunity Vanderbilt reflects the values of our alumni, parents and friends, and it speaks volumes that this community continues to invest in this transformative initiative.

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Future Needs

More than 7,500 gifts have been received to support Opportunity Vanderbilt during the decade since it began, with contributions ranging in size from $1 to $20 million. As the university celebrates the program’s 10-year anniversary, its future financial health depends on securing endowment funding to support half of all financial aid.

10 Senior Class Giving

21%

in 2008

 vs. 

85%

in 2018

Giving Animation: Rocket taking off

As more students and their families understand how Opportunity Vanderbilt opens the door to achieving dreams, they also realize the importance of giving back to help future generations. During the past 10 years, the participation rate among Vanderbilt seniors who donate to their class fund has skyrocketed from 21 percent to 85 percent.

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