Without much support from the state of Vermont, the “small college with a big heart” lands its financial needs in part on the backs of out-of-state students – and it might be pushing them away.
With out-of-state tuition ranging from $34,000 to $37,000 a year, those students are scrambling to figure out a way to pay. Some have taken out loans totaling $15,000 to $20,000 for one semester, or basically the total cost of in-state attendance.
According to the school’s website, there are about 2,100 students currently enrolled at Castleton. However, there is a higher number of part-time students than in past years.
Students say they are torn between leaving or staying and when out-of-state students were asked if students are getting their money’s worth at Castleton, there were mixed responses.
“I don’t want to be in debt for the rest of my life, so there’s no way I’m giving the college any more of my money,” said Michelle Ward, a student from New York.
“My goal was to graduate here, but I don’t think I’ll be back my sophomore year,” said Kelsey Dunn, a freshman from Laconia, N.H.
Allie Binney, a freshman from Malta, N.Y., answered similarly.
“Part of my problem is considering debt, being away from home, and being around so many students who don’t care. I don’t think it’s worth the money if I’m miserable,” she said.
But Keara Deal, a California-born freshman, said although she can see the benefits of leaving the college, she thinks she’s going to stay.
“I can find a school with my athletic training major closer to home, where I don’t have to pay $35,000. I just choose to stay because I have amazing friends, and I love the east coast,” Deal said.
But mixed in with the students who are considering leaving to save money, there are those who wouldn’t trade Castleton for any other school.
Alexandra Nelson, a freshman from New Hartford, N.Y., said that although the college is expensive for out-of-state students, she plans on staying until she graduates.
“I love Castleton, because the people are friendly here, and it’s easy to make friends. When I visited for open house, I could really see myself here as a student,” she said.
After asking students why they chose Castleton versus other schools, all said they fell in love with the campus.
Castleton has a friendly environment, but even the comfortable vibe of the campus isn’t enough to make some students stay.
On the school’s website, there is a list of scholarships available to first-year, transfer, international, and returning students. However, each scholarship offered has its restrictions.
According to Maurice Ouimet, the dean of enrollment, the school has invested in gaining more scholarships for students who struggle to pay for the college.
“We try to help as many students stay by offering them scholarships and financial advice. It’s important to have out-of-state students attend Castleton because it contributes to diversity on campus. We want to hear the students’ voice in the matter,” he said.