It's a vote that will hit Vermont State College students and their parents in the pocketbook.
The Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees says the schools need help with rising costs and declining enrollment. But many students say tuition is already too high.
Cramming for a test in the library late into the night, or finding the right group of friends-- college can be challenging. For students at the five state colleges in Vermont, they will now have another obstacle to face-- a tuition spike.
On Thursday, the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees voted 8-5 to raise tuition. They approved a plan that will have students paying an average of 3 percent more, with the exact impact on individual tuition bills based on financial need. The hike will impact Johnson State, Lyndon, Castleton, CCV and Vermont Technical College.
"It's sad to be honest. I feel a bit like what's happening is the budget is being balanced on the backs of the students," said student Ryan Downs of Johnson State College.
Trustees say rising expenses and declining enrollment for the state colleges have left many of the schools in red. Those in favor of the increase say it will help get the schools back on track.
"Three percent will provide the colleges with what they need to go forward to provide quality education for their students without giving them any cushion or any excess," said board member Rep. Jim Masland.
But some board members didn't support the decision, worrying that increasing tuition to help college budgets will keep kids from enrolling.
"I'm afraid that we are going to run out of kids going to college, or making that choice. And while its $450 roughly by the colleges, when you compound that into interest we are talking about thousands of dollars-- not just $450. And that's my concern," said board member Michelle Fairbrother.
Many Vermont State College students fear the increase means it will be harder to make ends meet.
"To students, any spike is going to hurt them. I know there are probably students who aren't going to come here next year because there was just a spike in tuition," said Josh Hunt, a Johnson State College student.
Trustees on both sides of the debate agreed that another big reason the state colleges are struggling is due, in part, to a lack of funding from the Legislature.
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