Education in Vermont
Although the cost of higher education has been climbing everywhere in the country since the recession that began in 2008, the increases in tuition in Vermont have been more modest than most places. For two-year public schools, the tuition has gone up about 18 percent nationally, but in Vermont it’s only gone up 9 percent.
What’s more, although the 30 percent increase in tuition nationally for four-year schools since 2002 has kept national enrollment increases at less than 20 percent, enrollment at Vermont’s public colleges and universities has gone up 27 percent, and its graduation rate at four-year public schools of 75.8 percent is the highest in the country. The state’s retention rate for first-year students is 85 percent — the fifth highest in the country.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), students in Vermont can choose among a total of 26 post-secondary schools, including two- and four-year colleges and universities as well as technical schools and career academies. Here’s a breakdown by type of the schools in Vermont that deliver two- and four-year academic degrees:
- Public 4-year: 5
- Public 2-year: 2
- Private 4-year, nonprofit: 17
- Private 2-year, nonprofit: 1
- Private 4-year, for-profit: 1
Vermont also has two institutions that require less than two years to complete — the advanced Welding Institute and O’Brien’s Aveda Institute, both of which are in South Burlington.
Vermont’s five state colleges are overseen by a public corporation called Vermont State Colleges (VSC), which is the umbrella organization for three four-year schools — Castleton State, Johnson State and Lyndon State — and two two-year schools — Community College of Vermont and Vermont Technical College. The Vermont Higher Education Council oversees the state’s largest public institution — the University of Vermont (UVM).
Below are the 2013 graduate and undergraduate enrollment figures for most of the public and large private colleges in Vermont, compiled by the Higher Education Council:
- University of Vermont: 12,723
- Community College of Vermont: 6,196
- Champlain College: 3,317
- Norwich University: 2,763
- Middlebury College: 2,495
- Saint Michael’s College: 2,378
- Castleton State College: 2,175
- Johnson State College: 1,692
- Vermont Technical College: 1,543
- SIT Graduate Institute: 1,394
All told, independent and private institutions in Vermont enroll about 18,000 of the state’s entire 43,415 students. The state’s schools’ total enrollment of 25,379 students is just about equally distributed between UVM and the five schools of the VSC.
Vermont is a popular destination for out-of-state students. Nearly 40 percent of the graduates and undergraduates enrolled at UVM are from outside of Vermont and less than 20 percent of the students in the independent schools are Vermont residents.
The U.S. Department of Education reported in 2014 that the Title IX financial-aid-eligible colleges and universities in Vermont awarded 11,024 degrees to 10,909 graduates during the 2011-12 academic year. More than 90 percent of those students were in four-year programs, while 6 percent came from two-year programs and the remaining graduates were in programs lasting less than two years.
Online Education in Vermont
Vermont, home of the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain, is a beautiful state, so it’s not surprising that many of its postsecondary students choose to study on campuses rather than through distance or online education courses.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s NCES, Vermont had only 45,000 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in classes in 2012 — the third-lowest total of any state in the country. Only sparsely populated Wyoming and Alaska enrolled fewer. But 10 percent of Vermont’s students were exclusively enrolled in online courses, a rate that was better than 22 other states.
Online learning is much more popular among the state’s two-year degree seekers. In 2012, for example, nearly 20 percent of the state 6,311 students enrolled in a two-year school were taking online classes exclusively and another 13.1 percent were taking at least some of their classes online.
The Community College of Vermont has by far the highest number of undergraduate students enrolled in distance learning courses with 1,319. The University of Vermont has just 145 undergraduate students enrolled exclusively in online courses. Champlain College is the most active in the online field among the independents in Vermont with 628 online-only undergraduates. There are even fewer graduate students enrolled exclusively in online classes or programs; in 2013, the total number of online-only graduate students among the state’s 26 colleges was 1,671.
Although online education is not as big in Vermont as it is in many other states, the state is working to expand opportunities to students who don’t have the time or ability to travel to campus to be a student. The Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative works with public and private schools in Vermont to make more courses available online to students who can’t get the courses they want or can’t travel to a campus to take them. As a result, 17 of the state’s colleges and universities are now offering online classes, and the Vermont Law School is offering its master’s and LLM degrees entirely online.
Norwich University is the only college in Vermont whose online programs have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report. Here’s how Norwich programs are ranked:
- Best online bachelor’s program: No. 98 (tie)
- Best online MBA programs: No. 84 (tie)
- Best online graduate Engineering programs: No. 48 (tie)
- Best online graduate Nursing programs: No. 83 (tie)
U.S. News & World Report has recognized Vermont schools in other ways, however. Here are their rankings among brick-and-mortar schools in the U.S.
University of Vermont
- Best National University: No. 89 (tie)
- Top Public School: No. 37 (tie)
- Best Colleges for Veterans: No. 72 (tie)
- High School Counselor Rankings: No. 104
- National Liberal Arts Colleges: No. 4 (tie)
- Best Undergraduate Teaching: No. 12 (tie)
- High School Counselor Rankings: No. 18 (tie)
- Best Value Schools: No. 10
- Best Colleges for Veterans: No. 4 (tie)
- Best Grad School for Public Affairs: No. 73
- Best Regional Colleges (North): No. 14 (tie)
- Best Colleges for Veterans: No. 9 (tie)
- Most Innovative Schools: No. 1
Top Jobs and Careers in Vermont
Although Vermont weathered the Great Recession better than most states, recording relatively few job losses than other states and keeping its unemployment rate below the national average, many of the new jobs opening up in the state are low-paying positions that don’t require a college degree.
However, the state has the fastest-growing economy in New England and state officials are working to bring in better, higher-paying jobs. One initiative is called Great Jobs in Vermont, which is a partnership between the Vermont Agency of Commerce, the Vermont Department of Labor and the Vermont Recruiter’s Association. Vermont’s leaders are keen on bringing in better jobs because they understand the value those jobs bring; according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), full-time workers who have a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $22,500 more than workers with a high school diploma in 2014. Here are some of top degree-requiring jobs in Vermont, according to the BLS and the Vermont Department of Labor.
|Occupation||Top Region||Why It’s Hot||Necessary Skills||Relevant Degrees|
|Registered nurse||Burlington, South Burlington||The state is anticipating 2,070 new jobs opening up for registered nurses in the coming years. Although the state’s population is not expected to grow significantly, the population is aging, bringing with it the need for more healthcare workers and more nurses to replace those who retire.||Social perceptiveness, active listening, coordination, speaking, critical thinking, reading comprehension, service orientation, monitoring, judgment and decision making and writing.||Nurses generally need at least an associate’s degree, although some go on to earn a bachelor’s, master’s degree in health or doctoral degree. Advanced degrees provide the training needed for higher-level jobs, such as a nursing supervisor or a hospital administrator.|
|Accountants and auditors||Burlington-South Burlington, Southern Vermont||Nationally, accountants have a bright future, and prospects are especially good in Vermont. State officials expect to see 1,340 openings through 2022. With the most robust economy in New England and a strong tourism economy, Vermont needs accountants and auditors for its fast-growing service-providing industries.||Active listening, mathematics, reading comprehension, writing, critical thinking, speaking, judgment and decision making, complex problem solving, time management and active learning.||Most accountants and auditors have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or business, but some start out as bookkeepers with an associate’s degree and work toward a higher-level degree while on the job. Master’s degrees in business and accounting can help a person advance their career, as can professional certifications, such as a Certified Public Accountant distinction.|
|Elementary school teachers, except special education||The greatest demand for teachers in Vermont will be in areas outside its primary metropolitan area of Burlington and South Burlington. The greatest rate of growth will be in the northern part of the state, but the largest number of jobs will come open in the south.||Vermont expects to need nearly 800 new teachers through 2022 as existing teachers retire and the population continues at currently levels.||Instructing, reading comprehension, speaking, learning strategies, active listening, monitoring, time management, active learning, writing and critical thinking.||Teachers need a bachelor’s degree as well as a state license, but many go on to get their master’s degree, which can qualify them for a higher salary. Some teachers also return to school to earn a master’s or doctorate in education so they can become administrators.|
|General and Operations Managers||Growth rate is steady across all regions of the state, but particularly in the north and south. The state expects 870 job openings through 2022.||Vermont needs skilled managers for its service-providing, trade, transportation and utilities industries. Most of the new jobs in the coming year are expected to come from service-providing industries.||Active listening, coordination, monitoring, social perceptiveness and speaking.||Most operations managers need at least a two-year degree and many have a bachelor’s degree in such areas as business administration, management, public administration, logistics and sales and marketing. Since there is no set educational path for general managers, operations management degree programs allow you to explore different areas.|
|Managers, other industries||Burlington-South Burlington||With its strong tourism economy and large ski resorts, Vermont needs a wide range of hotel, resort, housing and recreation facility managers.||Active listening, coordination, monitoring, social perceptiveness and speaking.||Most managers need at least a two-year degree and many management majors go on to get a bachelor’s degree in such areas as business administration, management, public administration, tourism and hospitality administration.|
|First-line supervisors and office managers||Burlington-South Burlington, southern Vermont||The demand in Vermont is for skilled managers who can coordinate the activities of clerical and administrative support workers. The state expects to need 730 of these professionals through 2022.||Active listening, speaking, reading comprehension, critical thinking, monitoring, time management, judgment and decision making, instructing and social perceptiveness.||Many front-line supervisors have an associate’s degree, but others learn through on the job training or at vocational schools.|
|Lawyer||Most of the jobs and the highest rate of growth will be in southern Vermont.||Although lawyer jobs nationally are expected to grow about as fast as average, Vermont seems to have a stronger demand. The state expects to need up to 500 new lawyers through 2022.||Reading comprehension, judgment and decision making, writing, critical thinking, active listening, persuasion, time management, negotiation, speaking and active learning.||In addition to a law degree, attorneys in Vermont must be licensed by the Board of Bar Examiners.|
It’s important to note that there’s no degree on the academic spectrum that comes with a guarantee of employment after graduation, but students who focus their education according to the needs of the workforce may be able to smooth over some of the difficulty in transitioning from school into the working world.
Financial Aid in Vermont
Going to college anywhere isn’t cheap, and Vermont has some of the highest tuition rates in the country. According to the College Board, in-state students in Vermont paid an average of $14,419 to go to a public four-year school in the state in 2014-15, and the cost of attending one of Vermont’s private four-year colleges was an average of $37,285. The only state with higher in-state tuition in the U.S. is Vermont’s twin state — New Hampshire, where tuition is $14,712 for in-state residents.
Here’s how the tuition costs at Vermont’s colleges and universities have changed in the last 10 years. All figures have been recalculated for inflation to match 2014 dollars:
Public 2-year, in-state:
- 2004-05: $5,937
- 2014-15: $7,320
Public 4-year, in-state
- 2004-05: $11,048
- 2014-15: $14,419
Private 4-year nonprofit:
- 2004-05: $29,130
- 2014-15: $37,285
Vermont tries to help residents cope with these costs through the Vermont Student Assistance Corp. (VSAC) and other programs. The VSAC provides grants, loans, scholarships and information students need to afford college. Most of the state’s colleges offer their own scholarships and work-study programs.
There are other options as well for financial help at colleges and universities in Vermont. Most students will want to start their search for funding help by filling out the Federal Application for Student Financial Aid. The data provided there will likely be used by Vermont schools, state agencies and private groups to determine a student’s need-based eligibility for grants and scholarships.
- Vermont Higher Education Council. Fall Enrollment Report (2013), https://vtcolleges.org/vhec
- Postsecondary Completers and Completions: 2011-12, Web Tables, U.S. Department of Education, March 2014, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014033.pdf
- Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative, http://www.vtvlc.org/
- College Measures. Vermont Public Schools, http://collegemeasures.org/4-year_colleges/state/VT/scorecard/
- Vermont Department of Labor. Longterm Occupational Projections, 2012-2022, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCQQFjABahUKEwjLjMek3fzHAhXHSogKHVKYCGo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.vtlmi.info%2Fprojlt.pdf&usg=AFQjCNFe3f3ELQ99zHkBE6Iu_qnRWYwHXQ&sig2=CGfAKgXHXkRwFhSD5mKPhw
- Vermont Career Outlook & Overview of Fastest Growing Careers, http://study.com/articles/Vermont_Career_Outlook%3A_Overview_of_the_Fastest_Growing_Careers_in_Vermont_%28VT%29
- The J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation, Pathways to Promising Careers, http://mcclurevt.org/pathways/
- The J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation, Career Forecasts Through 2022, Sept. 16, 2015, http://mcclurevt.org/pathways-4-years-pse/
- ONet Online, Details Reports, http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/13-2011.01
- Lawyers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, U.S, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Education-Training-and-Library/Kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers
- Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education, Occupational Information Network, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/25-2021.00
- College Board, Trends in Higher Education, Trends in College Pricing, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time
- Funding Vermont, U.S. Department of Education, http://www2.ed.gov/about/contacts/state/vt
- Elementary School Teachers, ELMI Occupation Report, Vermont Department of Labor, http://www.vtlmi.info/oic3.cfm?occcode=25202100
- General and operations managers, ELMI Occupation Report, http://www.vtlmi.info/oic3.cfm?occcode=11102100
- First-line supervisors/managers of Office, ELMI Occupation Report, http://www.vtlmi.info/oic3.cfm?occcode=43101100
- Managers, all other, ELMI Occupation Report, Sept. 15, 2015, http://www.vtlmi.info/oic3.cfm?occcode=11919900
- Lawyers, ELMI Occupation Report, Sept. 15, 2015, http://www.vtlmi.info/oic3.cfm?occcode=23101100