Vermont state college presidents discuss ways to cut costs

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LYNDONVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont state colleges are facing challenging times, dealing with rising costs, declining population and competition with online schools. In addition to changing the VSC system, state college leaders are now calling on the individual schools to help save the system. Our Calvin Cutler has an update from Northern Vermont University in Lyndonville.

VSC is tackling the challenges facing the system with a two-pronged approach. In addition to changes to the system as a whole, the board of trustees is looking to the individual campuses to save money and grow enrollment.

Vermont state colleges are at a turning point. Like many colleges in New England, the system is faced with declining demographics, financial challenges and competition with online degrees. VSC is turning to the individual campuses to come up with solutions to their own problems because each faces unique challenges.

"Each one of our institutions-- whether it's CCV, Castleton, VTC, NVU-- they're going to be impacted differently. We couldn't impose a uniform here what we're going to do for all of you. We need to rely on the leadership of our colleges," said Jeb Spaulding, the chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges.

At Vermont Technical College, leadership is looking to grow the number of apprenticeship programs by working with the state government.

At the same time, they're also looking to cut costs by expanding their facilities in Williston and leasing out parts of their Randolph campus.

"It's all designed to shrink our footprint in Randolph and thereby some of our operating expenses there, but not compromise on student quality," said Patricia Moulton, the president of VTC.

VSC leaders are looking to change the system as a whole to bring in and keep more students. They're looking to streamline systems that let students transfer from one of the four state colleges to another. They are also looking at ways to increase retention and help students earn degrees faster.

But will the changes at the campus and system levels be enough to solve the demographic and cost crisis? Leaders say success will take cooperation among all the schools and on the system level.

"We are ultimately one set of financial statements, so we need each element of the system to be successful or else we all might suffer," Moulton said.

The respective college presidents will now head back and work with students and faculty to roll out their own ideas locally. The final report from all of the colleges is due by June.