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Vermont colleges net $1.3 million for low-income student aid

The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded roughly $1.3 million in grants to Vermont universities, the state’s Congressional delegation announced last week.

Awarded through the Upward Bound program, the grants will go to four Vermont colleges to prepare first-generation and low-income students for success in higher education.

Offered activities include career and college readiness counseling, connecting high school students with dual enrollment programs, and financial aid advice and resources.

“Vermont’s strength is our people, and we are delighted to announce these grants to help Vermonters succeed in higher education,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch said in a joint statement. “College is a vital pathway to success, and these grants will help first-generation college students in Vermont flourish in our 21st-Century economy. We look forward to seeing these universities continue their great work.”

The grants include $270,375 for Castleton University, $270,375 for the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, $334,508 for Lyndon State College, and $470,196 Johnson State College.

Vermont boasts one of the highest high school graduation rates in the nation, but about 60 percent of all Vermont graduates continue their education immediately, compared to 66 percent for the United States. Education experts cite low income levels and poor social and academic conditions as obstacles to attending college and earning a degree.

“Upward Bound has a profound impact on our families, and helps prepare low-income students for the rigor of a college education and helps them acquire the skills needed for this new economy,” said Jennifer Jones, director of Castleton University’s Upward Bound program.