BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 14 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held his second college fair this month with Vermont high school students and their families Saturday at Castleton University to help ensure Vermonters have the information they need to further their education.
“Many Vermont high school students are well aware of the various educational opportunities and financial aid resources that are available, and that is great,” Sanders said, explaining why he wanted to organize the series of college fairs. “But the fact is: many students are not as aware of those opportunities and resources.”
“At a time when post-secondary education is more important than ever to get a decent-paying job, we must do everything possible to make sure every high school student, who has the desire and ability, has the information they need to further their education and career prospects,” said Sanders.
Sanders told the hundreds of Vermonters who attended the two college fairs that an increasing number of middle class jobs in today's economy require some post-secondary education. Nationally, median earnings for a worker with an associate’s degree will be about $360,000 more over their career than the average earnings for a worker with a high school diploma. Workers with a bachelor’s degree will earn almost $1 million more.
While nearly 75 percent of Vermont high school seniors say they want to pursue postsecondary education, less than 60 percent actually enroll. The gap is widest for students whose parents did not attend college, students from low-income families, and students with disabilities.
“If you are the first person in your family to go to college, as my brother and I were, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the application and financial aid process,” Sanders said. “How do you find the college that is right for you? How do you get through the many financial aid forms?”
During Sanders’ two college fairs this month, Vermont colleges, universities, and certificate and apprenticeship programs described post-secondary educational opportunities that are available in Vermont. The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation explained different financial aid options that students may be eligible for, and helped students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Sanders highlighted that the U.S. Department of Education funds excellent programs in Vermont, like Upward Bound, Talent Search and GEAR UP to help prepare students for college and provide support so they stay enrolled and graduate.
Sanders also held a college fair on Oct. 7 at Lyndon State College.