A budget compromise in Washington means a Vermont non-profit can not only keep hundreds of jobs, but also continue to help disadvantaged students afford college, students like Vertu Dzingou.
Vertu Dzingou is a student at CCV in Winooski. She moved to Burlington in high school from Gabon. She was born in Congo.
Dzingou attends CCV for free. She says that would have been impossible without counselors at the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, or VSAC, helping her sort through her financial aid options.
“I didn't know how things work. I had so many questions,” says Dzingou. “I was receiving letters about financial aid from schools and I didn't know how to interpret it or understand what they mean."
Lawmakers say it's people like Dzingou they were keeping in mind, when negotiating the $1.1 trillion spending bill passed in Congress last month.
“We fought for those because those programs take Vermonters from disadvantaged backgrounds who, you know, have the potential to succeed,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D – Vermont).
“The path to our future has to be through a commitment to education. It's about young people who are willing to make the best of themselves,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D – Vermont).
The new federal appropriations bill, the first passed in 3 years, clarifies that the Department of Education must allow non-profits, including VSAC, to work with student loan borrowers in administering loans.
VSAC President Scott Giles explained, “Part of sequestration was reversed. Sequestration cut funding for the very counseling programs that these students have had the opportunity to benefit from. VSAC will receive an additional $50,000 a year for each of the next several years."
The bill allows VSAC to retain its 200 workers who help more than 47,000 Vermonters who benefit from VSAC programs, including Vertu Dzingou.
When she graduates from CCV in May, she's headed to Champlain College to get her Bachelor's degree.
She hopes to, again, keep her education affordable.
The appropriations bill also renews spending for the Head Start program and college Pell grants.