By Guy Page
A $5 million spending hike would allow the four Vermont State Colleges to keep all campuses open, freeze tuition for the second straight year, maintain student programs and services, and continue valuable innovation, VSC officials told about 30 legislators at a breakfast in Montpelier.
“It’s a challenging time in the college and university game,” Chancellor Jeb Spaulding said. By May there will be four fewer private colleges in Vermont due to closings.
Vermonters pay among the very highest tuitions for public colleges and universities in the country, directly due to bottom ranked State support – just 1.7% of state budget for higher ed, lowest in New England. By comparison, Vermont taxpayer funding of PK-12 education is about $19,000 per student, but just $4,500 for public higher education.
Just 18% of college revenue comes from the State. 82% is tuition and other revenue. The $5 million will help raise state college spending to comparable national levels.
Vermont State Colleges are working hard to meet demands of a changing economy, officials said. For example, Castleton University this fall opened a resort and hospitality management degree program in partnership with Killington Resort and a BS – Nursing program in Bennington. Its polling program has been reinstated, albeit at a more reduced level. Castleton enrollment stands at 2400 and had a record 797 new students this fall.
Eighty-three percent of state college students are Vermont residents. Almost half are the first in their families to attend college. Vermont ranks second highest in the nation (after New Hampshire) for students attending colleges out of state.
Read more of Guy Page’s reports at the Vermont Daily Chronicle.