2016 Most Affordable Colleges in Vermont

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For many Americans, a college degree is the foundation of a bright future. But a college education is not cheap. Finding affordable universities, especially in a small state such as Vermont, can be a challenge. Fortunately, the 14th state of the Union offers several financial aid opportunities for Vermonters interested in pursuing higher education. From National Science Foundation scholarships to loan repayment and forgiveness programs to help for veterans and active military personnel, the Green Mountain State works hard to give her residents a brighter future.

How to Transfer College Credits in Vermont

Vermont does not offer significant statewide college credit transfer policies. However, most public higher education systems in Vermont participate in voluntary articulation agreements, and many are a part of the Vermont State Colleges system that offers generous formal transfer policies.

Institutions within the Vermont State Colleges system have a single course database. This makes it easy to identify course equivalencies and transfer course credits between participating schools.

Students who have earned an associate’s degree will typically be accepted as having completed all lower level general education requirements with Vermont State Colleges institutions. Vermont State Colleges accepts not just all associate’s degrees from in-state schools, but all associate’s degrees from regionally accredited institutions nationwide.

Vermont does not offer a statewide articulation guide for college credit transfer. However, most colleges and universities offer them independently. Contact the college or university where you’d like to transfer to find out how your completed course credits may apply.

State Financial Aid for Vermont Students

An excellent place to begin your search for college funding is the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation website. VSAC administers several state grants and scholarship programs to Vermont residents. There is also a free lending library, numerous online tools and free publications, and information about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), student loans, and the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan.

You can also save money by enrolling in a community college and earning an associate’s degree before transferring to a larger, four-year university (in-state or out-of-state). The Community College of Vermont serves nearly 7,000 students each semester at 12 locations, including Bennington, Morrisville, Rutland, St. Albans, White River Junction, and Winooski. There are also several scholarships available only to Vermont community college students. Do not let the cost ruin your dream of getting a college education in Vermont. Funding opportunities are available, if you know where to look.

Vermont Student Grants

Vermont Incentive Grant

Summary: Awards for the Vermont Incentive Grant program vary from year to year. They are based on a student’s financial need and the cost of attending the chosen school. For example, for the 2016-2017 academic year, eligible students can expect to receive grants from $850 to $12,050.

Eligibility: Students must meet the following requirements:

  • Vermont resident
  • Accepted in a recognized undergraduate or certificate program
  • Enrolled full time (i.e., at least 12 credits per term)
  • Pursuing first bachelor’s degree, or attending the University of Vermont College of Medicine or enrolled in a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program

How to Apply: Along with submitting a FAFSA, applicants must fill out a Vermont grant application, which can be done online here. Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis for as long as funds are available, so turn in all the required documents ASAP.

Vermont Non-Degree Grant

Summary: This grant is reserved for students enrolled in non-degree (non-matriculated) courses that aim to improve their immediate employability or put them on track for additional future studies. Applicants cannot be enrolled in high school. Eligible students may receive a Vermont Non-Degree Grant for up to two enrollment terms per year, which run from July 1 to June 30 of the following year. They can only receive funding for a total of six terms over their lifetime, provided they continue to meet the program’s eligibility requirements.

Eligibility: Applicants must be Vermont residents and enrolled in a non-degree course (or courses).

How to Apply: Complete a Vermont Non-Degree Grant application here. A FAFSA is not needed to apply for this grant.

Vermont Part-time Grant

Summary: Not all students can go to college and work toward their degree on a full-time basis. The Vermont Part-time Grant is designed for these students. As with the Vermont Incentive Grant, awards vary and are calculated based on a student’s financial need and number of credits taken. For the 2016-2017 academic year, typical awards range from $450 to $9,040.

Eligibility: This grant has the same eligibility requirements as the Vermont Incentive Grant, except for the minimum enrollment threshold. To be considered for Vermont Part-time Grant, students must be taking fewer than 12 credits per term.

How to Apply: Follow the same application procedure as for the Vermont Incentive Grant.

Vermont Student Scholarships

Amy Lowenstein Scholarship

Summary: This is a new scholarship created for academically-promising female students who plan to attend a four-year undergraduate program in Vermont full time. The award is $2,500. There is (to date) only one scholarship awarded each year. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years.

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Be female and a resident of Addison County
  • Demonstrate sustained school or community involvement
  • Have evident financial need
  • Show excellent academic achievement

How to Apply: Go your VSAC account and submit the following documents: FAFSA, completed USA form, two letters of recommendation, a general essay, and an official transcript.

Emily Lester Vermont Opportunity Scholarship

Summary: This scholarship is for youths who are aging out of foster care. The program’s goal is to help them transition to independent living as young adults after graduating from high school. There is no minimum credit requirement to apply. However, applicants must be enrolled in a degree program that leads to an associate’s or baccalaureate degree. Awards range from $1,000 to $2,000 and may not exceed $3,000 (or a student’s total cost of attendance, less the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and all other gift aids).

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Be currently in foster care under the custody of the Vermont Commissioner of the Department for Children and Families (DFC), or, if you are between 18 and 24 years of age at the time of your application, you must have been under the custody of the DCF for at least six months when you were between the ages of 16 and 18 years of age
  • Demonstrate financial need

How to Apply: Submit a Vermont grant application with the other required documents stated above.

Freeman Scholarship

Summary: This scholarship was created by the Freeman Foundation for students who are the first generation in their families to attend college (i.e., neither parent has a bachelor’s degree). Students who face significant obstacles that limit their access to a college education are also encouraged to apply. An average of 10 awards, up to $1,000 each, are given out each year.

Eligibility: Along with having significant financial need, applicants must:

  • Be a resident of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (Caledonia, Essex, or Orleans County)
  • Have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Demonstrate commitment to school and community involvement

How to Apply: After you create an account on the VSAC website, you can submit all the required documents from there. You will also need: FAFSA, completed Unified Scholarship Application (USA), two letters of recommendation, a general essay, and a transcript of records.

Nichols Family Scholarship

Summary: Established in 2015, this scholarship provides funds to college-bound students who have overcome adversity or extreme hardship. One $6,000 scholarship is awarded each year, with the possibility of renewing the scholarship for up to four years.

Eligibility: Along with meeting the general requirements for all VSAC-administered scholarships, students must have significant financial need and demonstrate resilience in facing substantial obstacles that stood in their way of getting a college degree.

How to Apply: Your essay (along with the other required scholarship documents) must include the specific challenge (or challenges) that you had to overcome to getting a college education.

Nordic Educational Trust Scholarship

Summary: This scholarship was created for students who have graduated from high school and who are seeking a certificate or a two-year associate’s degree in a technical field. Awards of up to $10,000 (spread out over two years) are available. On average, three scholarships are awarded each year.

Eligibility: Past academic performance is not applicable. However, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be accepted in an accredited school
  • Enroll in a two-year technical program
  • Demonstrate financial need

How to Apply: Complete the FAFSA and the USA form. Submit them with two letters of recommendation and a general essay.

NorthCountry Federal Union Scholarship

Summary: This scholarship supports the higher education goals of students from northern Vermont, especially those who have overcome significant hardships or challenges in life. Each year, an average of 15 awards are given out. The maximum amount is $2,000 per student.

Eligibility: You must met the following criteria:

  • Live or attend high school in the following counties: Addison, Caledonia, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, or Washington
  • Have a minimum 3.25 cumulative GPA (on a scale of 4.0)
  • Demonstrate committed and continued community service and involvement

How to Apply: Although a FAFSA is not required to apply, it can’t hurt, so submit that with the required documents (completed USA form, two letters of recommendation, a general essay, and an official transcript) from your VSAC account.

THV Scholarship

Summary: This program gives priority to non-traditional or first-generation college-bound students who live in Windham County (especially in the Deerfield Valley towns of Dover, Halifax, Readsboro, Searsburg, Whitingham, and Wilmington). Scholarship amounts range from $1,000 to $5,000, with a maximum of $25,000 awarded each year. On the average, about 20 awards are given out annually.

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Reside in Windham County or in the nearby towns of Readsboro or Searsburg in Bennington County
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Have a significant history of commitment and continued interest in school and community involvement

How to Apply: Submit one letter of recommendation from a non-relative along with the other required documents.

Vermont Dental Hygiene Scholarship

Summary: Established by the Hill family and the Vermont Dental Foundation, this scholarship provides funds for dental hygiene students residing in the state. An average of seven scholarships, from $15,000 to $18,000 each, are awarded each year.

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Be enrolled in an accredited dental hygiene program in Vermont
  • Have high academic achievement
  • Demonstrate financial need

How to Apply: Submit one letter of recommendation from a non-relative along with the other required documents.

Vermont EPSCoR First Generation Scholarship

Summary: EPSCoR is a program of the National Science Foundation and stands for Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. EPSCoR is designed for students who are not only first-generation college students, but who are also majoring in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics). Up to five scholarships are awarded each year, with an average amount of $5,000 per student.

Eligibility: You may be qualified if you are:

  • A Vermont resident and a United States citizen
  • First in your family to go to college
  • Graduating from a Vermont high school or currently enrolled as a college student in a Vermont college or university approved for federal Title IV funding
  • A student with high academic achievement (at least a 3.0 GPA)
  • Pursuing a degree in a STEM field

How to Apply: This program is administered through several Vermont institutions, so ask your college or university if they are part of the program. If they are, they will have an application form. You can also request one by mail (VT EPSCoR Center for Workforce Development and Diversity, One Winooski Park Box 137, Colchester, VT 05439) or by calling 1-802-654-3270.

Vermont Student Loans and Repayment Programs

Vermont Educational Loan Repayment Program for Health Care Professionals

Summary: Funded by the Vermont Department of Health, this program is administered by the University of Vermont College of Medicine Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program. If you have outstanding student loans incurred in the pursuit of your degree in the professions listed below and you are deemed eligible for the program, AHEC will pay the qualified portion of your loan directly to your creditor.

Eligibility: You must be a Vermont resident and practicing a minimum average of 20 clinical hours per week for at least 45 weeks each year in Vermont. You must also commit to a two-year term of service/employment in an HSPA institution. Consider applying if you are a:

  • Primary care practitioner (includes physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, certified nurse midwives, and psychiatrists)
  • Nurse (Licensed Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse)
  • DentistNurse educators/faculty
  • Working in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) as determined by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

How to Apply: Application forms and instructions will be available here in the summer of 2016.

Vermont State Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary Incentive Loan Program

Summary: This is an interest-free and forgivable loan program established to address the shortage of dentists that serve low-income populations. Qualified dental students train as Expanded Function Dental Auxiliaries (EFDA). Upon graduation, they become part of the dental workforce in under-served areas of the state. Students accepted to the program can enroll up to three interest-free loans of up to $3,000 each.

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Complete an EFDA program recognized by the Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA) of Vermont
  • Work for at least one year as an EFDA, with employment hours averaging no less than 20 hours per week
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Have a proven record of community service and involvement

How to Apply: This is a VSAC-administered program. View the application process on this website (see page 2).

Vermont State Nurse Incentive Loan Program

Summary: This loan forgiveness program is established for nurses (RNs or LPNs) who plan to work in Vermont (or in an accredited hospital within 10 miles of the Vermont border) after graduation. Up to $50,000 of interest-free loans can be partially or completely forgiven each year.

Eligibility: Apply if you:

  • Attend a Vermont school that is approved for federal Title IV funding
  • Are enrolled in a licensed LPN program, or the final year of an Associate of Science degree in nursing, or the last two years of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (BSN or RN), or the master’s entry program in nursing
  • Have demonstrable financial need
  • Intend to complete a minimum of one year of employment as a nurse in Vermont

How to Apply: This is a VSAC-administered program. View the application process on this website (see page 2).

Educational Assistance for Vermont Military and Veterans

Armed Services Scholarship

Summary: A program of the state of Vermont, the Armed Service Scholarship is for the spouse and children of military service personnel who died while on active duty since 2001. The spouse and children of Vermont National Guard Members who have died while serving at any time can also be considered. The scholarship will cover up to the full tuition for Vermont state schools, and the equivalent of the same for private institutions. The scholarship may be applied toward the completion of a maximum of 130 academic credits for a bachelor’s degree.

Eligibility: Applicants must also:

  • Be enrolled in an accredited Vermont college or university
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Be working toward his or her first undergraduate or associate degree

How to Apply: Spouse and children of deceased Vermont National Guard member should call the Vermont National Guard Education Office at 1-802-338-3346 for application materials and requirements. All others should contact the Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs at 1-888-666-9844 or at 1-802-828-3379.

Hoehl Family Foundation Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Scholarship

Summary: This scholarship was established by the Hoehl Family Foundation for children of Vermont residents who served in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the U.S. military or the National Guard. Up to 15 scholarships, from $3,000 to $7,000, are awarded each year. Qualified recipients can renew the scholarships annually for four consecutive years. Preference is given to students whose parents were killed, wounded, or permanently disabled while in active service in either of the campaigns.

Eligibility: You must:

  • Be enrolled in a Vermont college or university that has been approved for federal Title IV funding
  • Be a child of a U.S. Armed Forces (any branch) or National Guard member whose home of record is Vermont
  • Have demonstrable financial need

How to Apply: This scholarship program is administered by VSAC. See their application process here (page 2). Along with the other required documents for all VSAC-administered scholarships or grants, applicants must also submit an official signed statement that has the name of the service or guard member and his or her relationship to you. Alternately, you can submit a copy of your parent’s DD-214 Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.

National Guard Education Assistance Program

Summary: This is a tuition assistance program reserved for Vermont National Guard members. NGEAP funds can be applied toward any post-secondary school in the state and certain accredited technical education programs. Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Send in your application early if you qualify.

Eligibility: You must be a member of the Vermont National Guard in good standing.

How to Apply: You can find out about additional eligibility requirements and request an application form by calling 1-802-338-3378 or visiting their website to get the name and email address of the Education Services Officer who can help you.

Additional Support for Vermont Students

New England Regional Student Program (RSP)

Summary: This is a tuition break program for residents of the New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont). The program allows students in participating states to enroll in an approved major that is not offered by the public colleges and universities in their home state, and to do so at a substantial discount. The average tuition break for the 2015-2016 school year was $7,515. More than 82 public colleges and universities throughout New England participate in the program, and more than 800 associate, undergraduate, and graduate degrees are included.

Eligibility: You may qualify if:

    • You are a permanent resident of a New England state
  • The out-of-state college is closer to your place of residence than the in-state college offering the same program (This is the list of institutions that allow RSP eligibility under the Proximity Policy.)

 

How to Apply: There is no separate application required to participate in the program. You simply have to indicate on your college admission application that you are applying for RSP status and give the major or program you plan to pursue. If you qualify, your application will be considered on the same basis as that of another equally qualified applicant. Keep in mind that some popular programs may require an additional review process.

Cheaper College Living in Vermont

Once you are in the affordable Vermont college or university of your choice, you need to determine how you can live cheaply enough so you can stay enrolled until you get your degree. This can be especially difficult if you have a family to provide for (child care, monthly grocery bills, healthcare, etc.) along with your college expenses.

Begin your search for help by visiting the Agency of Human Services of the State of Vermont website. You can scroll down the list of the extensive services available to Vermonters, which includes child care financial assistance, housing and residential support, help with fuel, and much more.

If you prefer to talk to speak to a person about your options, Vermont participates in the nationwide 2-1-1 program. Experienced and well-trained volunteers will take your call 24/7 to give you the help you need. So, begin your journey to your college degree in Vermont with confidence, knowing that help is never far away.

On-Campus Housing

In 2014, U.S. News and World Report ranked American universities according to the percentage of students living on campus. Three Vermont colleges were on their Top 100 list: Middlebury College (96%), St. Michael’s College (95%), and Bennington College (94%). College dorm life is typically seen as part of the transition from living in your parent’s house to independent life as a young adult. Primarily for this reason, many public and private colleges and universities require freshmen to live on campus.

But living on campus with all its perks (safety, proximity to your classes, varied and convenient meal plans, etc.) can eat into your college budget. If you receive some federal funds, such as the Pell Grant for low-income students or the G.I Bill for veterans, you can use part of these funds to pay for on-campus housing. Also, if you qualify for the Vermont Incentive Grant, you can use some of that money to pay for the cost of your room and board on campus.

The University of Vermont offers several on-campus housing options. Vermont Tech has a side-by-side comparison of the costs of on-campus and off-campus living. While the dollar amounts are only relevant for Vermont Tech, you do get a “big picture” scenario that shows how on-campus housing can sometimes be the cheaper alternative. It’s also good to keep in mind that a typical on-campus housing lease runs only for the length of the academic year (fall through spring). You are not obligated to pay for the summer months when you don’t plan to be on campus. You also don’t have to put down advance rent or a security deposit, which can easily add up to two or three months of rent upfront.

Off-Campus Housing

Living independently is simply part of “growing up.” Most universities offer some kind of help for off-campus housing. After all, schools want to keep their students safe, no matter where they choose to live.

The Office of Student and Community Relations at the University of Vermont helps students look for off-campus housing and deal with other important issues, such as landlord-tenant concerns, conflicts with roommates and neighbors, and understanding city ordinances. You can subscribe to a newsletter on off-campus living so you can learn about neighborhood events you can attend for little or no cost, as well as local bargains and sales and store discounts.

The Division of Student Affairs at Vermont Tech assists students living off-campus by giving them access to critical information such as renter insurance and furniture rental packages. They hold an off-campus vendor resource fair twice a year (every spring and fall semester) so local property managers can show their vacancies to students. If your funds fall short of the lowest monthly rent for an off-campus apartment, don’t give up. Check if your income qualifies you for Section 8 rental assistance from the Vermont State Housing Authority. You can download the application from their website. You can also check the Directory of Affordable Rental Housing that lists more than 520 properties throughout Vermont.

If you can’t find an available property near your college of choice, consider the Vermont Rental Subsidy Program. If you qualify, you will be required to set aside a portion of your income to pay for part of the rent of a regular apartment priced at or below Fair Market Rental (FMR) rates. The program picks up the difference and pays the property manager directly. As your income increases, so does your share of the rent. The downside is that you can only use this program for one year. However, there is an upside. If you remain in good standing after one year (pay your share of the rent on time, maintain the apartment, etc.), you will receive a preference for a Section 8 rental subsidy at the end of your lease. This means you get to enjoy a fixed low rent for as long as you remain eligible for the benefit.

Websites such as CampusRent.com, ApartmentGuide.com, and even Craig’s List can be helpful in your search for the perfect off-campus lodging. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of apartment scams out there; be aware of deals that seem too good to be true. In case of a housing emergency, the Turning Point Center offers temporary shelter and transitional housing throughout Vermont.

Utilities

Vermont winters can be harsh. There are only so many sweaters and socks you can wear to stay warm without turning up the heat and consuming more fuel. Your income may qualify you for fuel assistance from the state, even if you don’t own your home. Download the application form from their website. You can also call 1-800-479-6151 or go to the district office nearest you to request a hard copy application. There is also a list on the website of fuel and utility suppliers that have been vetted and certified by the program.

Green Mountain Power has an energy assistance program that allows you to save up to 25 percent for the first 600 kilowatt hours of energy you consume each month. This can mean a savings of up to $300 a year. To be eligible for this discount, you must be a residential customer of Green Mountain Power and have a gross household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Download the application form here.

Vermont also participates in LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program). The program offers help paying for portions of your utility bill and includes services such as weatherization and energy-related minor home repairs.

Medical and Dental

For many Vermont universities, a health care fee is included in the comprehensive fee that all full-time students are required to pay. This entitles you to the services of the student health clinics on your campus. Use them before a simple health concern becomes a full-blown health crisis, which can derail your education.

If you’re enrolled in the University of Vermont, for example, you’re entitled to the core services offered at the Center for Health & Wellbeing without additional payment. The Student Health Center at Norwich University provides routine appointments and several over-the-counter medications at no additional charge. Even a small, private institution like Champlain College has a health center that provides preventive, diagnostic, and rehabilitative services free of charge or at very affordable rates for on-campus and commuter students.

Students who are enrolled on a part-time basis are typically not required to participate in a university’s health plan. They can, however, pay into it so they can take advantage of the available services. Before doing that, see if you qualify for the state’s Green Mountain Care program. It includes low-cost and free health coverage for adults, as well as for children, teenagers (under 19 years of age), and pregnant women. You have to have an account with Vermont Health Connect to participate in their programs. Sign up here. Eligibility is based on household income and family size.

If you need dental work done, several Vermont dentists accept Green Mountain Care and Medicaid insurance, making costly dental care more affordable. Check out the list of participating dental clinics here.

In the Upper Valley region of the state, the Good Neighbor Health Clinic offers many medical and dental services for residents who don’t have the means to pay. Providers include volunteer physicians, allied health professionals, nurses, dentists, and medical and dental students.

You can obtain low-cost dental care from the Dental Residency Clinic in south Burlington, which is part of the University of Vermont Medical Center Dental and Oral Health practice. Visit their website for more information and to see if you are eligible for the program, or call 1-802-847-1777 to schedule an appointment. In Chittenden County, dental hygiene students from the Vermont Technical College provide many dental services at low cost to residents. The students work on patients in an educational setting and are always closely monitored by faculty with professional clinical experience.

For those dealing with mental tension, adult outpatient mental health services are available from Vermont’s Agency of Human Services. Emergency assistance is also offered. All students at Vermont Tech can use three counseling sessions with a licensed professional free of charge. The Center for Health and Wellbeing at the University of Vermont also offers a wide range of counseling and psychiatry services to its students. Personal counseling services are free to all full-time students since they’re covered by the Health Fee. While you cannot always avoid stress, at least you know where to get relief.

Child Care

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, up to 26 percent (more than 4.8 million) of college students today are raising dependent children while working toward a college degree. At the University of Vermont, the Campus Children’s School serves as the first lab placement for both ECSP (early childhood special education) and ECE (early childhood education) majors studying at the university. If you qualify for child subsidy benefits from the State of Vermont (see below), you can significantly lower the cost of enrolling your child in this on-campus school. Check out their current fee schedule here. Vermont Tech has a similar set-up with their own Child Development Center for Learning & Research. Be sure to secure a place for your child early, as both centers tend to fill quickly.

To check your eligibility and to apply for a child care subsidy in Vermont, visit the Vermont Department for Children and Families (Child Development Division) website. While there, you can also learn about other programs that you may qualify for, download forms, and quickly check the status of your subsidy application.

There are 12 agencies throughout the state that help families and single parents find affordable and certified child care providers, as well apply for child care assistance in their communities. Call 1-877-705-9008 to be directed to the agency that can best help you, or visit their website for more information.

Transportation

The Marble Valley Regional Transit District, a.k.a., “The Bus,” is the state’s largest non-urban transportation system, and it’s free! Students enrolled in Castleton State College, College of St. Joseph, Community College of Vermont, Green Mountain College, and Vermont Adult Learning receive unlimited access on The Bus to go anywhere in Rutland, and even as far away as Manchester or Middlebury. Not to be outdone, the Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) also offers free rides to all University of Vermont students. Free transportation over the course of the four years is a huge savings.

Many universities also provide free rides for their students through shuttle services to popular destinations, bike-share programs, and car pool or ride-share opportunities. Visit the student services department in your college or university and inquire. These services are set up for your benefit and convenience, and best of all, they’re free!

Food

Students at Vermont Tech can turn to the 209 Manna Ministries when they run low on food, toiletries, and other school supplies. Vermont Food Bank is a member of Feeding America and partners with organizations, communities, government, and private institutions throughout the state to provide emergency food to Vermonters. You can visit their agency locator page to find a food bank closest to you.

Find out if you qualify for SNAP, or the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as 3SquaresVT in Vermont (formerly called the Food Stamps program). If you have a child, visit the Vermont School Nutrition Program website to find out if you qualify for any of their programs (National School Lunch, School Breakfast Program, and Special Milk Program). If you do, you can register on their website and start receiving benefits immediately.

Find Support in Your Area

College in Burlington on a Budget

Home to the University of Vermont with majestic mountains on one side (Green Mountains) and sparkling lake waters on the other (Lake Champlain), Burlington is a picturesque, postcard-perfect town. But with a Cost of Living Index score of 124 (the national average is pegged at 100), living there can be expensive, especially for a college student on a tight budget. Start your search for almost any type of help at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity. This is where you can find information on area food pantries, emergency housing, Champlain Valley’s Head Start, and many other useful programs that can keep you in school without going hungry, becoming homeless, or sacrificing the welfare of your child.

Where to Go for Help in Burlington

  • You may be eligible for child care assistance through the programs offered at Child Care Resources. Partnering with the state of Vermont, the organization helps single parents and families pay for child care services on a sliding fee scale. Along with meeting the income requirements, you must have a reason to seek help (referred to as a “service need”). Going to college qualifies. Download the application for the program here.
  • The Spectrum Youth and Family Services aims to make a difference in Burlington. It offers housing assistance, counseling, mentoring, skills training, and multicultural youth programs to some of the most vulnerable segments of the population. Families and those with children, as well as those up to 22 years of age, are welcome.
  • The Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf operates several programs that you may find helpful, including their food shelf program that provides a monthly five-day supply of groceries to families and those in need, a clothing corner, and the Good Food Truck that provides free nutritious meals on the road.

Additional resources in Burlington can be found on the list of programs that are funded by United Way Vermont.

College in Rutland on a Budget

Rutland is the site of the annual Vermont State Fair. But that is not its only claim to fame. With a Cost of Living Index score at just 5 percent higher than the national average, Rutland is a relatively cheaper place to live than Burlington or Montpelier. But you’re a college student on a limited budget and you can always use new ways to save money. Below are some ways to do just that in Rutland.

Where to Go for Help in Rutland

  • The Family Place helps eligible residents participate in the Child Care Financial Assistance Program (or, the child care subsidy). The program gives families access to quality early childhood education and care.
  • For the occasional times when your food budget runs precariously close to zero, the Community Cupboard may just be the resource that can tide you over. You can only access their food shelf six times in one calendar year, so make sure every visit counts.
  • Finding affordable housing in Rutland just got a little easier with the help of the Housing Trust of Rutland County, a non-profit organization that builds and manages permanently affordable housing. This includes apartment units, mobile home lots, and special needs residences. Check their list of available rental properties in the region and find an affordable place to stay.
  • You can use primary care and dental services on a sliding fee scale at the Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region. If your income qualifies you, you can save even more by participating in the Rutland Free Clinic program. Call 1-802-775-1360 for more information or an appointment. Their services include (but are not limited to) routine primary medical and dental exams, chronic care management, mental health counseling, physical exams, and women’s health clinics. They can also help you enroll in state and federal programs such as VT Health Connect and Medicaid.

Rutland cares for its residents. Check out other non-profit organizations in the region to find out how they can make living and going to college in Rutland much more affordable and stress-free.

College in Montpelier on a Budget

The birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and home to IBM (in Essex), Montpelier is a surprisingly small city for being the capital of the state. An estimated 8,000 people live in Montpelier, compared to 42,000 residents in Burlington, which is Vermont’s largest city. Montpelier is located in Washington County. Residents can use health and social services from the City of Montpelier and the Town of Barre, considered Montpelier’s twin city.

Where to Go for Help in Montpelier

  • Explore the City of Montpelier Housing Authority website if you’re looking for affordable housing in Montpelier. Along with group homes and elderly housing, they also own and manage Section 8 and regular apartments at FMR rates. Check your eligibility and apply on their website.
  • While the need remains great, there is no shortage of food shelves and food pantries in Washington County. Check their list and know that you don’t have to do without nutritious hot food, essential groceries, and other food items.
  • The Family Center of Washington County can help you provide for your child without having to give up your college education. Their comprehensive list of services includes child care financial help, play groups, transportation, and early intervention.
  • As a resident of Montpelier, you can pay for dental services at the Health Center Dental Unit in Plainfield, Vermont on a sliding fee scale. Call ahead to make sure they can take you (1-802-454-1047). They perform basic and restorative dental care, as well as simple oral surgery.

The Capstone Community Action provides a wide range of services that help Washington County residents get back on their feet, including housing counseling, family and community support, and workforce development programs. This means, as a resident-student of Montpelier, you don’t have to let anything stand in your way of getting your college degree.

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