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Burlington College placed on probation - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Burlington College placed on probation

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BURLINGTON, Vt. - An organization that accredits colleges has placed Burlington College on probation because of concerns about the school's finances.

Burlington College is a small school with big plans. Back in 2010 the college purchased the 32 acre property once home to the Burlington Diocese. Since then, the school has been making strides to grow enrollment.

But the New England Association of Schools and Colleges thinks more strides need to be made. They have put the college on probation citing financial problems mainly stemming from property debt. The college now has two years to prove they are financially sound.

Burlington College President, Christine Plunkett says that when the college made the decision to purchase the property, they knew they were in for some challenges. She says they are one of the smallest schools in the country with no large endowment, but she says it was a move that had to be made.

"We had 165 students in the Collodney building, we had no debt, we had a comfortable, a reasonably comfortable financial position, but no way to grow the college and no way to become much more sustainable financially. And we saw this as a transformational opportunity," said Plunkett.

Burlington College says plans to get back on their feet financially include developing student housing and other mixed residential property both on campus and off-site. The college currently serves around 290 students, but hopes to reach 500 to 750 with the expansion, which will help bring in more tuition money.

The New England Association of schools and colleges says the probation does not affect student’s academics or financial aid. The college will continue to operate normally, for the two year period, while reporting regularly to the association.

They say that gives the college a significant amount of time to try and get their finances under control before they have to take the ultimate step of withdrawing accreditation entirely.

But President Christine Plunkett says she is very confident that the plans they have in place will prove to the association that positive change is on the way.

"We did know that we were stepping into a challenging financial position that would take us several years. The key for NEASC is that we presented a plan that they felt was strong and indicates the likelihood that in a couple of years we will stabilize," said Plunkett.

The Association says the two year probation period gives the college a significant amount of time to try and get their finances under control before they have to take the ultimate step of withdrawing accreditation entirely.

But President Christine Plunkett says she is very confident that the plans they have in place will prove to the Association that positive change is on the way.

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