State cuts aid to Vt. students

The national and local financial downturns have wide-ranging implications for students, and those who rely on financial assistance to attend college now have one more thing to worry about. Full-time students with Vermont state grants through the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation [VSAC] had their second semester grants cut by $50 a grant, Irene Racz, the director of Public Affairs at VSAC, said. Grant money comes through State appropriations, and Racz said that she was uncertain of whether or not the grant program would be cut further. Students with loans through VSAC should not expect to see a change in their loan, as loans are borrowed funds, independent of State appropriations. “We were actually able to raise the capital of our loans this year,” Racz said. Despite the University of Vermont’s current budget deficit, members of the administration have said on multiple occasions that financial aid to students should not decrease as a result of budget cuts. In November, UVM’s Vice President of Finance and Administration, Richard Cate, said that the University’s financial aid money to students “won’t go down” as a result of the shortfall, and that the administration was actually hoping to increase the amount of aid. As of last week, not much had changed regarding the financial aid situation.”The University … is committed to supporting students with financial need, and the budget model we are using to address the budget gap … does not include any reductions in the amount of institutional need-based financial aid,” said UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel on the University’s Web site.While President Fogel said that the available financial aid should actually increase to accommodate a larger incoming class, he also said that some financial aid money is dependent on state funds, much like VSAC’s grants. “I think Vermont students should not be very happy about it,” UVM sophomore Alex Huizenga, a Vermonter, said. “I don’t think there is any good thing about taking away that money – It could deter students from choosing to come to UVM.”