State News

New fund pays early childhood education students to graduate early, join the workforce.

Students pursuing a certificate or degree in early childhood education can get paid to increase the number of college courses they take and graduate sooner. A partnership between the Community College of Vermont (CCV) and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) is leveraging funds secured by Vermont’s federal congressional delegation to pay students while they take college classes.

Many students pursuing a career in early childhood education (a.k.a. child care) are taking classes while working a full- or part-time job.

The need for income to cover life expenses can hamper a student’s ability to take a full course load and extends the time until they get their certificate or degree. The new Early Childhood Education (ECE) Residency Program pays students $3,500 if the student reduces their work time and takes more classes to graduate sooner.

“The residency program is an outstanding opportunity for students pursuing a degree or certificate in early childhood education at CCV,” said Leslie Johnson, associate academic dean at CCV. “Our students live rich and busy lives, balancing families, work, and careers in addition to the courses that they take at the College. The residency program funds provide a way to alleviate some of the competing demands faced by our students and will support them in accelerating progress toward becoming a professional in the field of early childhood education.”

The Early Childhood Education Residency Program is available to Vermont residents enrolled in a CCV early childhood education certificate or degree program that have completed at least two courses at CCV (not exclusive to ECE classes), have completed all financial aid forms, and agree to increase their course enrollment. Students considering applying for the program should discuss the opportunity with their CCV advisor and financial aid counselor. Residency funds are designed to help pay for living expenses during the more intense academic semester.

Paying students to complete degrees more quickly in fields with critical workforce shortages could be a model for addressing the national labor shortage.

“There are community colleges across the nation with students balancing work and academics which slows progression to a degree,” said James Trimarchi, director of planning at SVMC. “One or two semesters of payment for life expenses, while redirecting effort to academics would shorten the time to a degree considerably and could greatly increase the number of professionals in the labor force.”

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