State News

Private higher ed “key driver” in state economy, study finds

The economic impact on Vermont of 18 private institutions of higher education in the state is $2.09 billion annually, and the colleges directly employ 7,100 people statewide, according to a new study released by the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges (AVIC) using data from the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Rutland County is home to Green Mountain College and College of St. Joseph. Together, these private colleges enrolled nearly 1,155 students and employed 197 people, with combined institutional expenditures topping $28 million in 2014-2015. Over $25 million in tuition and fees from out-of-state sources were raised for spending in Vermont.
Private colleges can be a source for increasing the permanent population in Vermont.
“Not only is the private college sector a key driver in Vermont’s economy, but eighty percent of our students come from out-of-state. This translates to about 15,500 young people and helps create a talent pool for employers. Private higher education is a magnet and a top reason people decide to move to Vermont,” said AVIC President Susan Stitely.
Due in large part to the out-of-state students attracted to Vermont’s private colleges, more first-year students come to Vermont each year than leave Vermont to attend college elsewhere. This creates an annual “brain gain” for Vermont of about 2,800 first-year students.
Enrolled students spend their college savings in Vermont, and all those connected with higher education are also active consumers. Additionally, Vermont’s private colleges attract over 138,000 visitors, friends, and family annually who further support local businesses across the state. Student, visitor, faculty and staff spending totaled an estimated $848.
“The dollar and jobs impacts highlighted in this report are important to the state economy. Beyond those numbers, Vermont’s ability to attract out-of-state students introduces thousands of families to our state as visitors and often long-term residents — the state should find ways to strengthen our colleges and capitalize on that important marketing advantage,” said Ken Jones, an economic research analyst for the state.
In addition, Vermont’s private colleges are giving more institutional aid — $207 million in fiscal year 2014-2015 — from their own resources than ever before. An annual average of 82 percent of students receive financial aid from institutional resources.
Vermont’s private colleges also serve roughly the same percentage of low-income students who qualify for need-based Pell grants — 21.6 percent compared to 23.2 percent at public four-year institutions.
Another reason that private colleges remain competitive is that 60.3 percent of bachelor degree-seeking students graduate within four years, compared to 49.6 percent at public institutions. This saves parents and students both time and money.
Data was collected through an AVIC survey, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC).

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