The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Vermont Colleges and Student Debt

Pay It Forward and Other Policy Options
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 1213-16
April 01, 2013
Michael
Altamirano
‘13
Don
Casler
‘14
Adam
Nasser
‘15
Mark
Sheridan
‘15
Melissa
Yang
’15
Clinton
Grable
'14
Joshua
Schiefelbein
'14
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Executive Summary

Students graduating from a college or university in the state of Vermont, they are saddled with, on average, $28,273 of debt, which is one of the highest amounts in the nation. Families of both in-state and out-of-state students have difficulty affording increased tuition hikes. Vermont legislators have been actively exploring policy options to reduce student debt burdens. A major reason for the high levels of student debt is the decreased government funding. In 1980, the five institutions of higher learning in the public corporation Vermont State Colleges (VSC) received 51 percent of their revenue from state appropriations and the remaining 49 percent from student tuition.1 Today, VSC receives less than 20 percent of its revenue from state appropriations, which means student tuition must account for the remaining 80 percent. The Vermont State Senate is considering S. 40 which would establish an interim committee to develop policies that would restore the 1980 ratio of state funding to student tuition.2 This report assesses the strengths and weaknesses of other states’ programs that Vermont can consider in developing solutions to reduce debt burdens among VSC students. The report focuses primarily Oregon’s Pay It Forward plan, including short- and long-term implementation considerations. Finally, several revenue-generating plans from other state college systems are addressed.

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