• Cutting costs at Vt. private colleges
    January 06,2013
    Brett Simison photo

    Middlebury College graduates wave their canes in the air during the college’s commencement ceremony last summer. Middlebury is among the Vermont private institutions to make a college education more affordable.

    The cost of college is high. As high school seniors begin the annual ritual of applying to college, they and their parents are concerned about the cost of college. Vermont’s private colleges share that concern and are introducing ways to make college affordable so that more reap the benefits of a college degree.

    For starters, Vermont’s private colleges give students $145.8 million from their own resources to help reduce the cost, with a majority on campus receiving aid. For example, at Bennington College 79 percent of students receive grants and scholarships as compared to 66 percent at Harvard.

    The average student debt load for graduates of Vermont’s private colleges typically ranges between $17,220 and $29,839. Unlike the purchase of a new car, however, the degree grows in value.

    After factoring in the expense of going to college and the four years of potential earnings that students give up while they are in college, a 2011 Pew Research Center analysis found that adults with a college degree earn over half a million dollars more over a lifetime than those without a degree. That’s a big difference.

    In light of these realities, Vermont’s private colleges are increasing student aid and making additional commitments. Here are some of them.

    Burlington College froze its tuition rate for the 2012-13 academic year and offers a four-year tuition guarantee to full-time incoming first-year students.

    Champlain College has launched Personalized Access To Higher education (PATHe), a program that offers adult learners a faster and more affordable way to obtain a degree through the college’s online and continuing education division.

    Green Mountain College will match the University of Vermont’s tuition rate for Vermont students and guarantees that students will graduate in four years or the college will cover all tuition costs for any additional course needed.

    Goddard College has tripled institutional aid issued to students in the past year and ensures that its tuition is less than or within the same price range as comparable programs at UVM.

    Landmark College is providing more scholarship support, as well as generating more short-term programs and e-learning opportunities to provide students greater flexibility and allow them to graduate more quickly.

    Marlboro College has lowered the minimum family contribution for tuition to 12.5 percent from 15 percent and significantly increased awards for financial aid.

    For the last two years, Middlebury College has limited its comprehensive fee (tuition, room, and board) to the Consumer Price Index plus 1.

    The College of St. Joseph in Rutland is offering new scholarships that will increase in value each year to reduce the overall cost of a bachelor’s degree.

    The bottom line is that by 2018, six in 10 American jobs will require some form of postsecondary education, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Moreover, the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s or advanced degree was 4.1 percent as compared to 8.4 percent for high school graduates with no college, according to 2012 U.S. Department of Labor data.

    You’d be surprised how affordable a private college education can be. With these affordability initiatives, financial aid, and scholarships, most students pay less than the published price. They also enjoy the advantages of a close-knit community, small class sizes, and strong mentoring relationships with professors.

    As college-bound students and their parents plan for the future, Vermont’s private colleges will continue seeking innovative ways to make higher education affordable and give students what they need to succeed.

    Susan Stitely is president of the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges.

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