Vermont Business Magazine Is college worth the cost? This question has been discussed for decades, but now it is in the national spotlight. For many young people, the rising costs of college have put the American dream out of reach. Both parents and students are hitting the ceiling when weighing the growing costs of higher education. Burlington College has been focused on affordability throughout its history. Recently, it was one of the first private colleges in the country to "freeze tuition." Four years later, the College is again addressing affordability for its students. It will reset tuition, making it among the lowest-cost private colleges in the region.
Affordability and Tuition
In an effort to address this issue, Burlington College has reset its 2016-17 tuition at $21,500. This is a savings of almost 9% off the current tuition. "In today's global economy, more college graduates are essential for our nation to be competitive. We want to create pathways that enable students to be successful in the workforce and addressing the cost is a critical component," said President Carol A. Moore.
$21,500—this is the sticker price. Then, financial aid, institutional aid, and scholarships can further cut the costs for students. Over 80% of Burlington College students receive some level of financial or institutional aid. For those students, the average out-of-pocket cost for a full-time student is about $2,000.
Some colleges and universities have taken the strategic approach of raising tuition and then discounting the sticker price, as much as 50%. Burlington College's strategy is transparency with students and families. We are lowering our tuition and holding the discount rate steady at 14%. This ensures students can understand their costs right up front.
"We believe that it is important for students to understand the details of how published tuition rates and the net price of their education is calculated. Keeping both tuition and discount rates low is in the best interest of our students," said Joanna Morse, director of student fianancial services.
At Burlington College there are several scholarship programs available including transfer students, community college graduates, and those that live in the surrounding region. Programs offer scholarships that range from $500 to $5,000. The Stone's Throw Scholarship is available to those students who come to the College from a geographically located state—one that borders Vermont. The Transfer Scholarship is for students who have earned an Associates degree and want to continue on to a Bachelors degree.
Small Classes and Individualed Studies
While the College focuses on keeping the costs to students low, there is a continued commitment to small classes that are student-centered. Classes are discussion-based and students collaborate with their instructors to develop a learning agreement for each course. The average class size is 6-10 students. This means that students are able to focus their learning on exactly what they need to meet their needs.
Individualized study is one of the hallmarks of a Burlington College education. Not only can you enter a defined major such as film, photography or human services, but you can also individualize the program to focus in a specific area or add an additional dimension. Or if a student wants to design their own major, they work with an advisor who quides them through the design and program.
Experiential Learning Leads to Jobs
Burlington College has been recognized for it commitment to exeperiential learning. In 2013, US News & World Report listed it as one of the colleges with the highest rate of student internships. Not only are students out in the industry learning onsite, but the learning in the classroom is focused on "doing."
This experience paired with the softskills that employers are looking for, such as teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving makes for a well-rounded graduate. These skills are constantly honed and employers have reported that interns and employees from the College are well-prepared to be successful as soon as they start.
While many colleges have been adding buildings and expensive recreational facilities, Burlington College has focused on creating a campus that encompasses the wealth of resources that the city of Burlington has to offer. Why pay more when it is already conveniently located?
Want to work out or swim in the pool? Take your bike or the bus to the YMCA just a few blocks away. Music, art, food, entertainment, shopping? Within walking distance. The 7 mile bike path and access to Lake Champlain is right on the edge of the campus.
"We believe that the students should be an integrated part of the Burlington community and utilize the rich resources already available. The benefit is two-fold—students support local businesses and we keep our expenses down," said Dean of Student Services Greg Litchfield.
Keeping It In Check
Being small enables Burlington College to be nimble and responsive to the needs of students, the community, and the marketplace. While the discussion of what is an "affordable" cost for a college education will continue, Burlington College is finding ways to educate students who will meet the workforce needs while keeping costs in check. Resetting tuition will immediately help current and future students.
Burlington College is a small private, progressive college located in Burlington, Vermont. The College delivers student-directed education in several areas including arts, woodworking, film, writing and literature, transpersonal psychology, human services, humanities, and more. Students can also design their own course of study in undergraduate and graduate programs. Awards to the College have focused on internships, affodability, quality of life, and excellence in student work.