UVM’s Catamount Commitment Removes Financial Barriers for Limited Income Vermonters
Also provides support programming for group
- By Jeffrey R. Wakefield
The University of Vermont has launched a new program called the Catamount Commitment guaranteeing that all Vermonters receiving federal Pell grants will pay no tuition and no comprehensive fee to attend the university, beginning with the class entering UVM in the fall of 2017.
The program will also provide a range of support services for Pell-eligible Vermont students, many of whom are first-generation college students, designed to help them succeed at the university.
To be eligible for a Pell grant, students must have demonstrated financial need. In the fall of 2016, 26 percent of all Vermont undergraduates attending the university were Pell-eligible.
Pell-eligible Vermonters currently pay no tuition to attend UVM, because of institutional, federal and state grants, but do pay a comprehensive fee, estimated to be $2,259 in the next academic year. They also pay an acceptance fee of $495.
Under Catamount Commitment, both those fees will be paid by the university. In addition, a $500 study abroad fee will be waived for Pell-eligible students who want to pursue their education internationally.
UVM’s total commitment to low income Vermonters is significant. The university’s total estimated in-state tuition and fees for the 2017/18 academic year are $17,732. The new program fully fills the gap between that figure and the maximum Pell grant award of $5,920. The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation also helps make up the difference, as do any scholarships and merit aid the student receives and a federal grant for students with exceptional financial need.
“The Catamount Commitment further removes financial barriers to higher education that many limited-income students and families in Vermont face,” said UVM president Tom Sullivan. “The program demonstrates the university’s strong commitment to providing financial access and support to an excellent education for high achieving students with financial need who want to succeed at college and achieve their goals in life.”
Program also provides services to promote academic success
Beyond financial resources, the Catamount Commitment is also designed to promote the success of Pell-eligible Vermonters by providing a variety of services that assist them in their transition to college and help them attain their educational objectives.
“A major goal of the program is to help students see that campus resources are accessible and available to help them succeed at UVM,” said Stacey Kostell, UVM’s vice president for enrollment management. “We want to show students that using these resources is a good choice and a sign of strength, one that will help them stay on track and be academically successful.”
- Catamount students may elect to participate in any of the following academic and personal support opportunities:
- Pre-arrival and welcome events and activities
- Informal meals with Catamount Commitment peers and campus resource contacts
- Academic development meetings by college
- Workshop series (i.e. life skills, academics, wellness, social connectedness)
- Mentoring program connecting Catamount Commitment students with staff, faculty, community members and university alumni
- Social events
- A senior reception
- College-career transition support
Catamount Commitment students, admitted in Fall 2017 or later must meet all of the following criteria:
- Be admitted to UVM as an undergraduate student (new first year or transfer) beginning in Fall 2017 or later
- File a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
- Receive Federal Pell grant funds during the academic year
- Be admitted as a Vermont resident
- Enroll in at least 12 credit hours during the fall and spring semesters
- Make steady, satisfactory academic progress towards a degree
Vermont students whose financial situation changes such that they are no longer Pell-eligible during their time at UVM will still be able to take advantage of the support services.