By: Rebecca Reese, News Editor
Amidst the craziness of the primary in New Hampshire flooding the media, the Vermont State Colleges system (VSC) has been up to something that will be voted on tomorrow.
Chancellor Jeb Spaulding proposed that each institution be considered on its own and based on each college’s situation, he proposed increasing the tuition by the following: “0% increase for Castleton University, 3% for CCV, 2.5% for Johnson State and Lyndon State, and 4% for Vermont Tech.”
According to the unapproved minutes of the Finance & Facilities Committee meeting on Wednesday, January 13, 2016, the last item considered was a Tuition Discussion for 2017. Lyndon State President Joe Bertolino was present via phone to the meeting, along with other presidents of VSC institutions.
The minutes read, “Chair Hindes reminded the Committee that the Board requested at its December meeting that they review and discuss the potential for a 2017 tuition increase and bring it a report of its consideration to the full Board at its February meeting.”
“The tuition proposal is modest.” Bertolino said.
Bertolino also said that the tuition increase will primarily be offset by financial aid and scholarships. As far as current students are concerned, Bertolino said, “Financial Aid Counselors will be on hand to assist students in navigating the tuition, billing and aid process. Additionally, financial aid and scholarship offerings for LSC students will continue increase.”
“It is important to note that the increase will be identical to Johnson and less than VTC and CCV, Bertolino said. “Overall tuition will remain relatively low, under that of Castleton’s and VTC’s. With our new financial aid and housing incentives, LSC’s overall price tag will be less than that of JSC. As a result, LSC will be the most affordable residential college in the state of Vermont.”
Bertolino agrees with each school being dealt with separately.
He said, “Each of the colleges is unique with distinct program offerings. Different offerings come with a different price tag. For example, it is more expensive to run a science, nursing or engineering program, than a human services or education program. Therefore, each institution needs to have the flexibility to adjust tuition rates based on the needs of their students and their community.”
With one trustee absent, the group votes four to three in favor of the proposed tuition increase.
“I expect that the Board of Trustees will support the measure,” Bertolino said.
Flashback to 2015, the VSC board of trustees approved a two-year tuition plan in which came the first tuition freeze in 35 years. Tuition would not change in price until 2018.
What message does this send if the vote passes for a change a year early? This was Bertolino’s answer:
“No one wants to raise tuition. Keeping higher education accessible and affordable remain a top priority for the VSC and for LSC. The landscape of higher education has changed dramatically since the two year tuition vote last year. Demographics continue to shift and remain unfavorable to colleges and universities. Costs continue to rise. As a result, failing to increase tuition modestly, would force institutions to cut personnel (faculty and staff), program and quality. Additionally, colleges will need to create new revenue streams which exclude tuition and fees. Therefore, I hope students will see this action as a ‘responsible’ move on the part of the VSC to protect the quality education our students are receiving.”
The full board will vote at Johnson State College tomorrow.