Promising to ease the cost of education

Students who go to college in Vermont will now have a financial incentive. Gov. Jim Douglas recently signed the Vermont Promise Scholarship bill to help Vermonters achieve success and remain in the state.

The bill provides $175 million scholarship funds to the University of Vermont, the Vermont State Colleges, and VSAC over the next 15 years. But students receiving the aid must promise to remain in Vermont after graduation.

“It provides incentives for Vermont students” said Bill Clark, a Vermont State Colleges representative.

Vermont students can get up to $5,000 a year if they remain in Vermont for three years after graduating. And in order to keep the scholarship, students may have to maintain a high grade point average, Clark said.

However, only $5 million is available to students this fall, which has many thinking that may not be enough.

Over 25 percent of Vermonters leave the state after graduating college and the Vermont Legislature hopes this new program will reduce that number.

Sen. Bill Doyle, also dean at Johnson State College, said that the scholarship “is a step forward for our states economic future.”

Legislators also hope the bill will guarantee higher education for the next generation Vermonters.

In his introduction to the signing, University of Vermont president, Daniel Mark Fogel, said that there are three serious problems Vermont is facing.

The first is that Vermont is number one in the nation in students leaving the state after graduation. The second is that Vermont colleges are the least affordable in the United States. And the third is the Vermont student has the record high for the most amount of money borrowed to pay for college.

“We have to reach out to families where college may not be possible,” said Fogel.

Doyle said he hopes this bill will also address the demographic challenges Vermont is facing.

“This is a beginning and certainly not an end to embodied visions,” he said.

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