Budget surplus and tax revenue aids education grant funds

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(Host) There’s a lot of education news across the state today. A special fund that provides grants to Vermonters who attend in-state colleges has received an unexpected windfall.

The Vermont Higher Education Trust Fund was established in 2000 with an initial appropriation of $6 million. Interest from the fund is used to make grants available to Vermont students.

The legislation that created the fund also stipulated that if the state has a budget surplus, and if the estate tax exceeds its projected revenues by twenty-five percent, that all additional money from this tax source would go to the fund.

State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding says this provision of the law will be activated this year.

(Spaulding) “This past year, 2005, the estate tax revenues exceeded, came in more than 125 percent of projections and we have a surplus. So we’re going to be able to add close to $2.5 million to the existing $8.9 million Trust Fund this year, and that’s a good thing.”

(Host) Spaulding says the money comes at a time when many Vermont families are struggling to pay for college.

(Spaulding) “It’s actually kind of scary to see out there the amount of debt that people are taking these days to send their kids to college or to access post secondary education later in life. And there are some indications that people are starting to change their plans for college or their family’s plan for college. At a time like that, to be able to come up with some additional money for non-loan funding for people to attend college is a really nice thing to do.”

(Host) With the additional money this year, Spaulding says the Vermont Higher Education Trust Fund will have capital reserves of more than $11 million.

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