What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

What Does it Really Cost to Attend Vanderbilt University?

Planning for college costs can be a complicated and sometimes confusing process. This is because no two families are likely to pay the same amount at the same school. Similarly, the same family is unlikely to pay the same amount from one school to the next. So many factors impact college costs that families must make their own predictions specific to their unique situation and school of interest.


As college costs continue to rise, making accurate predictions about how much your family may spend on a college education becomes increasingly important. As CNN reported in 2016, the average family could expect to pay $56,840 for a four-year degree from a public institution or $104,400 from a private university. Being able to anticipate these costs more accurately also means being able to budget for them appropriately. In this series of posts, we at CollegeVine analyze the costs of attending over 1,000 schools. If you’re interested in learning more about how much you might pay to attend Vanderbilt University, you won’t want to miss this post.  

Want to learn what Vanderbilt University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Vanderbilt University needs to know.


Why Are College Costs So Variable?


College costs vary so much because the number of factors that impact them is high, and the range of these factors is broad. Some families earn hundreds of thousands each year while others live below the poverty line. Some students receive piles of merit aid while others earn none. Some students stick with state schools or other public institutions, while others seek out private universities. No two experiences will be identical, so college costs vary broadly.


The first step towards narrowing down the prediction of college costs is to understand the factors that impact them. One of the biggest factors that will impact how much you pay for college will be a college’s list price. List price, also sometimes referred to as the sticker price, is the total amount that a student would pay to attend without any type of financial aid or merit scholarships. List price typically includes tuition, room and board, and any required fees. At schools with a high percentage of commuter students, some costs might be excluded, like room and board, so be sure to confirm exactly what each list price includes before you start comparing them.


List price is a helpful starting point for understanding college costs, but net cost can be a more helpful data point. Few students actually pay the entire list price. Average net cost is the average amount that families actually pay out of pocket for their student to attend that school. Net cost is affected by how much government aid, institutional grants, and merit scholarships a student receives. Net cost also varies widely, but in general it is a more helpful data point than list price.


What is the List Price at Vanderbilt University?


The list price at Vanderbilt in the 2016-2017 school year was $64,654. Vanderbilt is a private institution, so this list price is the same for everyone, regardless of their state of residence. Only a small percentage of students actually pay the list price, though. Those who can expect to do those are students from families whose make a combined annual income of $175k or more. Even if students come from particularly wealthy families, they may pay less than the list price if they earn merit scholarships.


What Is the Average Net Cost of Attending Vanderbilt?


The average net cost of attending Vanderbilt after financial aid is $53,766 for both in-state and out-of-state students. For students who are not eligible for financial aid, the average net cost is $60,350.


What is the Cost Based on Income of Attending Vanderbilt University?


Because net cost varies primarily based on how much a family earns, it can be more helpful to break down costs by family income.


At Vanderbilt, the net cost based on family income is as follows:


Family Income Average Net Price
$0-$30,000 $3,482
$30,001-$48,000 $4,750
$48,001-$75,000 $8,451
$75,001-$110,000 $14,835
$110,000+ $32,921

How Much Merit Aid is Awarded at Vanderbilt?


As a general rule, most highly-selective schools don’t award much, if any, merit aid. With an acceptance rate of less than 10%, Vanderbilt certainly qualifies as selective, yet it is an exception to the rule when it comes to merit aid.


In 2016, 19% of students at Vanderbilt received merit aid. The average merit aid award for a student without financial need was $4,304. This places Vanderbilt at 573rd in the pool over 1000 schools we analyzed for merit aid generosity.


How Many Students Take Out Loans to Attend Vanderbilt?


Taking out a loan to help fund their education is something that is common amongst Vanderbilt students. In 2016, 58% of students had taken out at least one loan. The average federal student loans per undergrad student was $1,734 total across all four years.


Student Outcomes at Vanderbilt


Because a college education can represent a significant expense for many families, it can be helpful to also consider the return this investment is likely to yield. Generally, people with a college degree have a higher earning potential than those without. At Vanderbilt, 91% of students who begin a degree program complete it within six years, and the average ten year salary out of college is $69,000.


Local Area Cost Considerations


Local area cost considerations can also impact overall college spending. Students who go to college in an expensive area will likely pay more for things like groceries, transportation, and off-campus housing.


Vanderbilt is located in Nashville, TN where the cost of living index is 110.4. This means that the cost of living in Nashville is slightly above the national average. The most factors that contribute most significantly to the higher cost of living in Nashville are housing and transportation costs. A studio apartment there rents for about $887/month while a three-bedroom goes for around $1557/month.


The job market is fairly good in Nashville. Unemployment rates fall below average and job growth projections are above average. That said, hourly employees don’t earn very much overall. Minimum wage in Tennessee is still at the federal minimum of $7.25/hr and the median hourly wage across the state is $16.28.


Other Ways to Pay for College


Loans and financial aid are only two of the most common components to fund a college education. Merit aid is another way to significantly offset college costs. Many students are able to successfully secure merit aid, if they know where to look for it.


One of the largest scholarship programs in the country is the National Merit Scholarship Program. Through this program, high school juniors who take the PSAT are eligible to qualify for awards based on their scores. Other students may also qualify for scholarships through the National Hispanic Recognition Program, or awards sponsored by specific corporations or individual colleges. You can find more information about the program in our post How to Qualify for the National Merit Scholarship.


Countless other scholarships exist that also may be worth pursuing, depending on your student’s areas of strength and interest. Some scholarships are awarded on the national level after a selective process of combing through a large pool of competitive applicants. Other scholarships are awarded at the local level, or to students who fit into specific niches based on their background, skills, or experiences.  You can learn more about some of the scholarship opportunities that might fit your student in these posts:



Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.