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Equity by the Numbers

Why Focus on Equity

For the prosperity of all Vermont residents, the vitality of its communities, and the strength of its economy, Vermont must address structural injustice in postsecondary education and training. Addressing equity means understanding that people need different resources, interventions, and opportunities to reach the same goal. And because no one holds just one identity, we must attend to the intersections of identity-based discrimination and exclusion. Vermonters facing marginalization, discrimination, and systemic oppression experience unique roadblocks in their pursuit of postsecondary credentials that their advantaged peers do not. Institutional barriers are too often invisible to the people who do not experience them.

Equity: The recognition and repair of structural injustice in social, economic, and political systems.


A major barrier to education and training after high school is affordability — and lack thereof. Too many people in Vermont work tirelessly to pay their bills. To expand the career horizons of these community members, education and training after high school must be more financially accessible.

Lived Experience

In addition to the broad issue of affordability, many people living in Vermont experience barriers specific to their identity or lived experience. These statistics in no way reflect student deficit; these are examples of how structures like racism, colonization, and trans- and homophobia effect Vermonters’ ability to access and thrive in postsecondary education and training programs.

Additional Resources

These barriers are not uniform. And neither are the solutions. Every person living in Vermont is impacted by social, political, and sconomic structures, and we must work to understand the multifaceted ways these systems support and hinder people’s ability to earn postsecondary credentials. Continue to learn more about these topics from the reading list below, which includes resources from organizations all over the country. The only way to continue to grow the number of Vermonters with credentials, the number of Vermonters with jobs that meet their needs, and the number of Vermonters living in prosperous communities is to ensure that people from all walks of life find a sense of belonging in our work.


Note: Calculation based on average family income for VSAC Vermont Incentive Grant recipients.

Source: Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. (2018). VSAC Higher Education Fact Sheets for Vermont Counties. Accessed May 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.vsac.org/about/how-we-influence-policy

Additional Reading

Vermont Basic Needs Budget and Livable Wage

College Affordability: What Is It and How Can We Measure It

Source: Institute for College Access and Success. (2018). Student Debt and the Class of 2017. Percentage of Graduates with Debt and Average Debt of Those Loans, By State. Accessed May 2019. Retrieved from: https://ticas.org/sites/default/files/pub_files/classof2017.pdf

Additional Reading

Buried in Debt: A National Survey Report on the State of Loan Borrowers in 2018

Note: Including funds distributed to VSAC, the Vermont State Colleges, and the University of Vermont.

Source: University of Illinois Grapevine. 2019. State Fiscal Support for Higher Education per $1,000 in Personal Income and Per Capita, Table 4
(includes funds distributed to VSAC, VSC, & UVM). Accessed April 2019. https://education.illinoisstate.edu/grapevine/tables/

Additional Reading

Unkept Promises: State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Access and Equity

Source: Advance Vermont. (2018). Statewide Higher Education Survey. Accessed May 2019.

Additional Reading

Varying Degrees: New America’s Survey on Higher Education

Lived Experience

Source: U.S Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid. (2019). Federal Student Aid for Students in Adult Correctional and
Juvenile Justice Facilities. Accessed May 2019. Retrieved from: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/aid-info-for-incarceratedindividuals.pdf

Additional Reading

Investing in Futures: Economic and Fiscal Benefits of Postsecondary Education in Prison

Source: Vermont Judiciary. (2017). LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care. Vermont Juvenile Court Improvement Program. Accessed May 2019. Retrieved from:

Additional Reading

Foster Care to College: Fostering Success for the Future

Source: BroadbandNow. (2019). Internet Access in Vermont. Accessed May 2019. Retrieved from: https://broadbandnow.com/Vermont

Additional Reading

Grade Increase: Tracking Distance Education in the United States

Post-Traditional Students in Higher Education

NoteThe term ‘indigenous’ is synonymous with the U.S. Census Bureau’s categorization of ‘American Indian and Alaska Native.’ The term ‘white’ refers to U.S. Census Bureau’s  categorization of ‘White alone.’

SourceLumina Foundation. (2018). A Stronger Nation. Accessed May 2019. Retrieved from:

Additional Reading

Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving the National Postsecondary Degree Attainment Goals

Creating Visibility and Healthy Learning Environments for Native Americans in Higher Education

Source: New American Economy. (2016). The Contributions of New Americans in Vermont. Accessed May 2019. Retrieved from: https://research.newamericaneconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/nae-vt-report.pdf

Additional Reading

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Bridging the Gap for Foreign-Educated Immigrants

The Contributions of New Americans in Vermont

Note: The term ‘first-generation’ refers to students who report that neither of their parents earned a 4-year degree.

Source: Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. (2018). A First Look: Vermont Senior Survey Class of 2016. Accessed May 2019. Retrieved from:

Additional Reading

First-Generation Student Success: A Landscape Analysis of Programs and Services at Four-Year Institutions


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