Support higher education in Vermont

To the Editor:

The future of higher education is at a crossroads in Vermont. In prior years (e.g., 1980), our legislature demonstrated a clear commitment to its young people and their future by providing over 50 percent of the cost of running the University of Vermont and the Vermont State Colleges. Since that time, that commitment has shrunk so dramatically that today, the VSC and University of Vermont receive less than 18percent of their funding from the state. On a national scale, Vermont currently ranks 49th out of 50 states in terms of funding higher education. As a result students and their families now pay for more than 80 percent of the cost of college leaving them in tremendous debt upon graduation, assuming they're even able to continue their education while facing such financial straits.

To address this crisis, Senator Anthony Pollina has introduced Senate Bill 40. The bill proposes bringing together experts from across the spectrum who live and work in Vermont. Their purpose would be to develop a plan to bring back funding for the state colleges to 1980's levels which in turn will reduce the cost to students and their families. Owing less in college loans would allow students to not only complete their education but it would make it easier for them to live and work in Vermont after graduation.

The choice is clear. If we continue on the path we are on, we will restrict the opportunities our young people have to attend college. We must decide that all Vermonters have a right to an education that doesn't burden them with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. This is an investment in our collective futures. I encourage my friends and neighbors to strongly encourage their legislators to vote "yes" on S40.

Patricia Shine

Concord, Vt.

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