LYNDON CENTER -- Lyndon State College has been appropriated $136,000 in additional funding from the Vermont legislature. Gov. Peter Shumlin made the announcement in late May at the close of this year's legislative session. The increase, the first in nearly five years, is 3 percent. The legislation requires that the full amount of the increase, this year and going forward, be dedicated to financial aid for Vermont students. This state appropriated funding -- in the form of grants and scholarships -- will make college more affordable for Vermont students by providing increased financial assistance.
To qualify for this assistance, a student must be a Vermont resident and be a new, returning, or transfer student. The funds are divided into three categories: $50,000 for freshmen, $50,000 for returning students, and $36,000 for transfer students. Returning students are defined as students who attended LSC last year or any student returning to college after time away from their studies.
Sen. Jane Kitchel chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. She weighed in on the recent decision, "The higher education structure is an incredible resource. We want to find the best use [of it] for Vermont students."
Kitchel went on, "Vermont has been doing better than other states and now that we are creeping out of the recession, we can do more. We looked at education in a variety of ways. There are so many good programs. It's a matter of creating access and responding to labor needs."
Rep. Kitty Toll echoed these sentiments and added, "Vermont has seen years of level funding due to the recession. We have had large gaps to fill. Because of the growth in Vermont's general funds, we were able to make some new investments this year. Vermont students and colleges were a priority. We hope to see general funds and the economy continue to improve allowing for the continued support of programs that are essential to Vermont students."
Lyndon State College's Dean of Administration Wayne Hamilton explained, "Last year, fiscal year 2012, our students received nearly $8 million in federal, state, or institutional (LSC) aid. That includes grants, scholarships, tuition waivers, and work-study funds. It does not include subsidized federal loans."
Hamilton went on, "For Fiscal Year 2014, which began July 1, the state appropriation will be approximately 15 percent of our unrestricted or general fund budget and approximately 13.5 percent of all college funding, including gifts, grants, etc. The FY14 appropriation is $4,774,513."
Eighty-five percent of LSC students receive some form of financial aid. On average, 42 percent of an LSC student's tuition and fees are covered by financial aid. A year at LSC for a Vermont resident, including tuition and fees, is roughly $10,000; room and board runs about $9,000.
LSC President Joe Bertolino commented, "This additional funding will go a long way toward helping deserving Vermont students get access to higher education -- something that benefits everyone." Director of Admissions Vincent Maloney added, "This comes at a great time for students who want to attend LSC this fall but were sitting on the fence because of concerns about cost."