Hamilton vs. Vassar [waitlist admit, more expensive] decision

Hello everyone. I was accepted into Hamilton College during the regular decision round, and after hearing back from my other schools (most of which were wait lists, including one of my top schools, Vassar College), I made the decision to commit.

Earlier this week I received a phone call from Vassar stating that I had been accepted off the wait list. I was ecstatic until I received my financial aid package. My family is low-income (EFC was calculated to be $2850) and while Hamilton met our full demonstrated need with grants and no loans, Vassar’s net price was $10,000 more expensive and included significant student loans. I understand colleges calculate contributions differently, but I was in shock that this difference was so drastic.

I submitted an appeal shortly after receiving the package which is currently under review. Is it reasonable to predict Vassar will refuse to match Hamilton’s aid package?

Thank you for your help!

You can see what Vassar comes back with but there is a good chance they will not materially change their financial offer. If that is the case, I’d stick with Hamilton.

Either way you are in great shape. Congrats.


Schools all calculate aid differently.

Both are wonderful names and you’ve probably gotten a roommate by now and gotten very comfortable with Hamilton.

So - congrats on a first great acceptance and now a second great one.

It’s ok to try if you truly want Vassar but awesome get with Hamilton…be proud and move forth with excitement and knowing it’s an accomplishment well done!!

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This seems to be your only explicit question. However, it’s Vassar that will decide this; you will receive an official response from them presently. Perhaps you have some other, as yet unstated, question?

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Schools are often not as generous when accepting off the WL. So while Vassar is usually extremely generous with FA for low income students, it may be less so when accepting off the WL. Best you can do is wait and see what Vassar offers. As much as I love Vassar, go with what is affordable.



If your appeal to Vassar brings the cost to within range of what you can afford — even if perhaps only to the outside of that range — you might be reassured to see it included in this Forbes article from several years ago on colleges worth their expense:

“several years ago” is right ! But the OP’s EFC was around $2850, and Hamilton met it with grants and no loans. If Vassar doesn’t meet that or come extremely, extremely close (Like just have to do a campus job), as much as I love Vassar (I am an alum!) I’d pick Hamilton. Please don’t take on a bunch of debt. I loved my years at Vassar. Its a great school. But please keep us posted about their FA response.


If Vassar makes it affordable for you, go for it. Currently, I agree with others that you should stick with Hamilton. What cost would you be comfortable with? If they brought it down to say, $6000 a year, could you swing that?

If you’re at all concerned about liking Hamilton, I’m sure you have made a great choice. It’s a wonderful school.


Hamilton is a great school. If the numbers work for your family, just stick with your original decision.


I am a Vassar alum but would suggest Hamilton unless VC matches FA. Both are great schools congratulations!!


Both are great schools which are absolutely academic peers.

I would not pay $40k more (much of which would be debt… so tack interest onto that) for Vassar unless:

  • It offered a major I wanted to study, and Hamilton did not offer that
  • I just really, really preferred the vibe and environment at Vassar

IE, the reason to pay that much more would need to be very compelling.

I feel that way generally about peer vs. peer decisions – Princeton vs. Yale, Vandy vs. Rice, etc.


I have heard that schools are much less likely to match financial aid offers after May 1st. I hope Vassar comes through for you, but if not I would stick with Hamilton. Good luck to you!

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“Several” represents more than “a few,” of course, so my language should not need further explication. In any case, the outside source was used to support an intuitive position regarding at which school the OP will match best. I hope that Vassar becomes affordable for her, and that she can choose to attend there without constraining financial considerations.

And 2 years later they put Hamilton at #58 and Vassar at #63 (America's Best Value Colleges List)

These “rankings” are usually based on the average cost of tuition or COA after grants, etc are applied. In the OP’s case the better value currently (until we hear if Vassar improves its FA package) is currently Hamilton.


UPDATE: Thank you all for your input! Today I received my updated financial aid offer from Vassar and Hamilton’s offer was matched. I am pretty certain that Vassar is the school I will be attending next year!


Congratulations! Both very fine schools, but I understand Vassar’s pull.

And let this be a note of experience for others who follow: if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.


Fabulous news!! Congrats!!! Now order stuff from the college store!!! Home

I believe you are right with respect to the validity of the Forbes article. As another indication of this, this nearly current Money (a publication that tends to emphasize value) ranking places Hamilton 4th and Vassar 32nd:

Even with matching financial aid offers, then, Hamilton may represent the better value by some criteria. However, the OP has stated she is “pretty certain” she will attend Vassar, which she has indicated has been her preferred choice throughout this process. It’s for this latter reason she should choose Vassar, in my opinion.