In-state rates for undergrad and graduate programs are capped at 40% of out-of-state tuition. Right now, Vermonters pay $572 per credit hour, while out-of-state students pay $1,444.
"The issue is our out-of-state tuition is very high," said Cynthia Forehand, interim Dean of the Graduate College at UVM. "We can't attract the out-of-state students because the tuition is so high."
Forehand says while plenty of out-of-state students come to Vermont from undergrad, fewer students come for graduate programs, mainly because there is less opportunity for financial aid. She says the 40% rule is keeping the school from being able to lower that out-of-state cost.
"We can't really lower the in-state tuition any more than it already is, so we can't do anything with our out-of-state tuition," she said.
The Vermont House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would exempt graduate and online tuition from the 40% rule. There was a long debate prompted by State Rep. Michele Kupersmith, who proposed an amendment to limit the exemptions to just 12 graduate programs.
"My concern was this is a major, major policy change that has been taken up in the context of a miscellaneous education bill," Rep. Kupersmith said. "It was not on anybody's radar until two days ago."
Lawmakers rejected her amendment, indicating they trust UVM to use their newfound flexibility responsibly, rather than raise prices for Vermonters.
"I don't see any widespread increase in the in-state rate," said Dean Forehand.
She used the Medical School as an example--it has been exempt from the 40% rule for decades, but Vermonters still pay considerably less than out-of-state students.
The bill is now headed to the senate.
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