VCFA and FAS: A Well-Oiled Financial Aid Machine


Nestled on a hill overlooking picturesque Montpelier, Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) offers artists and writers a transformative, progressive graduate education experience through its master of fine arts programs and unique master of arts program in art and design education. In 2008, VCFA acquired its historic Vermont College campus and three master of fine arts programs from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, which had owned the campus since 2001. After the transaction, VCFA turned to FAS to administer its student financial aid.


“We never had a stationary moment since we became independent,” said VCFA Controller/Bursar Katie Gustafson. “It’s an incredibly dynamic place, whether we’re adding new programs for our 360 students or starting a fund raising campaign to renovate our buildings.” The college signed its first contract with FAS in 2008 to help implement its own financial aid process. Gustafson noted that for a period of time, the college had discussed bringing its financial aid in-house. “But as FAS and VCFA grew together, we saw that students were incredibly well-served,” she said. “FAS is very good at decreasing the stress level among students and helping them understand how financial aid works.”


FAS Manager of Full Service Wanda McLaughlin and FAS Client Services Manager Daphne Parks work closely with Gustafson to provide comprehensive financial aid remote processing. “Everything they do is so efficient,” said Gustafson. “We’ve had clean compliance audits every year, and it doesn’t get any better than that.” Every year, the trio reviews and tweaks processes to make sure that everything is working well. “We have a well-oiled machine,” Gustafson said. “While we are different from any other school, FAS’s willingness to engage with us in our culture is admirable. I think that’s what the broad FAS mission is all about. Any school would be smart to consider working with FAS, but nobody can have Wanda or Daphne!”