New grant provides free college tuition

WINOOSKI — A new grant program will offer eligible Vermonters the chance to obtain a college degree, tuition-free. The grant, called 802Opportunity, pays for up to two years of free tuition to the Community College of Vermont. Any Vermonter with a family Adjusted Gross Income of less than $50,000 per year can qualify.

Students can choose from 33 flexible programs in highly sought-after career fields. Here in Vermont, most high-demand and high-wage jobs require college or training. An associate degree or certificate from CCV can provide the skills and credentials students need to pursue a higher paying job or advance in their professions.

The program is open to new or returning students of any age, starting in the fall of 2021 and continuing for two years. This means that if someone starts in the fall of 2021, they could attain a two-year associate degree tuition-free.

“We know that education is the greatest equalizer when it comes to economic opportunity,” said Scott Giles, president and CEO of the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. “Education beyond high school is required for Vermont’s high-demand, high-wage jobs — the jobs that Vermonters want, and the jobs that our employers need to fill. This will be a game changer for many traditional-age students and working adult students and one of the most important investments in higher education to come out of the pandemic.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, just over 40% of Vermont households reported incomes of $50,000 or less in 2018, the latest year for which data are available.

“The Vermont State Colleges System is deeply committed to reaching all Vermonters with an education opportunity that works for them at a price that they can afford,” said Vermont State College Chancellor Sophie Zdatny. “Investments like 802Opportunity are investments in our state workforce, our local businesses, and the Vermont economy. Imagine the possibilities for Vermonters and statewide economic development when Vermonters can up-skill with a credential or degree thanks to this program.”

“Too many Vermonters choose not to pursue a college education because of cost,” said CCV President Joyce Judy. “With this program, we can to say to Vermonters: this is your chance to invest in yourself, to gain knowledge and skills that can help you build a better future, without worrying about a high price tag or a huge amount of debt.”  

The Community College of Vermont offers associate programs leading to Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees. CCV also offers several certificate programs that provide necessary knowledge for employment, or a foundation for further study. With CCV’s transfer agreements within the Vermont State College System and schools such as UVM, students can apply their associate-program credits toward bachelor’s degrees.

802Opportunity, in combination with state and federal grant aid, covers tuition for all credits in a degree program of the student’s choice, as well as the $100 administrative fee. The grant does not cover lab and studio fees, books, or other supplies.

Funding for 802Opportunity was approved by the Vermont Legislature and Gov. Scott earlier this year. That approval meant that Vermont joined 14 other states that have made community college tuition-free.

For more information on 802Opportunity, visit

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