Paying for College

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Across Vermont, college acceptance letters are piling up on kitchen tables, with seniors and their parents weighing their options about this big decision. But for many families, the quality of the school and its personal fit for the student is only part of the equation: how much college will cost and which school can offer a better financial aid package is the critical question. On the next Vermont Edition, we talk with Don Vickers, director of the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, about what families need to consider in their plan to pay that tution bill. And Karen Gross, president of Southern Vermont College, joins us to discuss the market implications for private college loans. (Listen)

Also in the program, what are the implications when part of the Champion Lands change hands – again. A 135-square mile tract of the Champion Lands is being resold, and it’s reviving some of the controversial issues of traditional land use, preservation and conservation. Environmental reporter Candace Page talks to us about the original Champion Lands deal, and what may come of this new sale. (Listen)

And, Vermonters wax poetic about one of this season’s enduring rites of passage (literally!) – the pothole. (Listen)


Comments from listeners about financial aid:

Jonathan from Norwich:

1.If your child has a UTMA account in her name, do you recommend using that fund during the college search process to lessen the amount in the fund so as to not have that money counted in your child’s contribution in the financial aid formula?

2. If for what ever reason – for example unforeseen medical expenses, or other expenses, a family has a large debt not apparent from a tax return form, how can a parent get that additional debt figure into the aid formula?

Anonymous in South Royalton:

I’m graduating in May with a JD from Vermont Law School. The price for this three-year education from a third-tier law school was $180,000. Financial Aid has calculated that I will need to make $65,000/yr for the next thirty years
just to make ends meet. I, and most of my graduating class, still don’t have jobs. My advice to people considering higher education is to research the expected value of the degree you are getting. Then decide if it’s worth it.

Anonymous in Franklin County:

I would prefer not sharing my name and the organization I represent. As a counselor for over 10 years, I met with a senior last Friday who I have worked with since the 6th grade. He wants to attend a two-year forestry program and there isn’t an associates program offered in Vermont, so he has applied to Paul Smith’s and UNH. He was accepted at both colleges but with an expected family contribution of just over $1,000 he still has nearly $17,000 of unmet need not covered by financial aid at both institutions. He (and I) were nearly in tears when we discussed this situation. He’s considering taking out the $17,000 for one year and most likely that amount and more next year – in loans above the $3,500 in federal Stafford loans and a federal Perkins loan he received from the collleges. It’s criminal that kids who have worked so hard academically are having to go into debt more than $20,000/ yr (some more, some less). One of the state colleges needs to offer an associates degree – so many young Vermonters are interested in forestry at the two-year level. (Of course they’re – we’re in Vermont, especially northern Vermont where this industry drives our economy). We also need to start prioritizing funding higher education in Vermont. I believe we are lower than 45th for funding higher ed nationally. I’m saddened by this and would love to know how to advocate more for students. As someone without children, I am for supporting higher ed through my taxes over many other issues. I would rather drive on a bumpy, pot-holed road anyday than tell a student they can’t go to college because they don’t have enough money.



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