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Burlington College's Low Finances Lead to Probation

"We are one of the ten smallest colleges in the country,” said Burlington College President Christine Plunkett. “We have no established endowment, and we have a very small donor base because we're only 40 years old." Plunkett isn't worried about her school going on probation.

Burlington, Vt.- "We are one of the ten smallest colleges in the country,” said Burlington College President Christine Plunkett. “We have no established endowment, and we have a very small donor base because we're only 40 years old."

Plunkett isn't worried about her school going on probation.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges placed the school on probation for failing to meet the standard for financial resources.

The problem comes from a major purchase of new land for their campus back in 2011.

"Knowing we were stepping into a period of difficult growth, but we felt that it would be transformational," Plunkett said.

The land will be the grounds for the campus' “Master Plan”.

"With the new campus, we have the opportunity to do exactly what we planned which is to now grow our visibility in the community, grow our student body,” Plunkett said.

Since moving campuses three years ago, the school has significantly increased enrollment.

Plunkett says it has conservative projections to put it around 340 in three years.

The college wants roughly 500 to 750 total students.

"We will be on heightened reporting requirements, and we see that as a good thing,” Plunkett said. “We see this as an opportunity to regularly report our enrollment growth."

Since the probation is only caused by their financial situation, the academics for next year will not be impacted.

"Clearly students are most concerned. 'Does this impact my program? Does it impact my credit? Does it impact my financial aid?' and the answer to all of those is no," Plunkett said.

The probation only lasts for two years, and the school will keep its accreditation.

Burlington College's plan to become financially stable also includes selling its old housing for residents.

The college has collaborated with Farrell Real Estate to build student apartments in Colchester to support growth.

Between fundraising with concerts this summer, increased enrollment, and selling the current housing, the probation should be lifted in two years.

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