Time to Invest in Yourself with VSAC’s 802Opportunity Grant

Written by
Stephen Mease

January 13, 2022


1-13_float (002).jpgWINOOSKI, Vt. -- A grant program that offers eligible Vermonters the opportunity to earn a college degree tuition-free has been embraced by nearly 1,750 students since the program began last fall.

The grant, called 802Opportunity, pays for up to two years of free tuition to the Community College of Vermont (CCV) by combining Vermont and federal grant programs. Any Vermonter with a family Adjusted Gross Income of less than $50,000 per year can qualify.

So far, 1,740 students have taken advantage of this opportunity to choose from 33 flexible programs in highly sought-after career fields at CCV. 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 two-year program is open to new or returning students of any age. Students who started last fall could attain a two-year associate degree tuition-free. 

The high-demand, high-pay jobs in Vermont require college or training

An associate degree or certificate from CCV can provide the knowledge and skills you’ll need to pursue a higher-paying job, advance in the job you have, or build a foundation for further study.  

For instance …

  • an Early Childhood Education associate of arts (A.A.) degree helps students develop knowledge, skills, and experience to work effectively with young children and families.
  • an Information Technology associate of science (A.S.) degree prepares students for the exciting and ever-changing field of information technology.
  • a Pharmacy Technician certificate prepares students to work as pharmacy technicians under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist.
  • a Workplace Skills certificate provides students with the skills necessary to be successful in today's workplace: good communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision making.

If you have some college credits but haven't completed your degree, now is the perfect time to finish what you started, tuition-free.
Explore all CCV programs here. Late registration runs Jan. 17-21. Classes begin on Jan. 24. 

Workforce development needed in Vermont

Gov. Phil Scott addressed the state’s ongoing need for workforce development, affordable higher education, more internships opportunities, and trades training for Vermonters in his State of the State address to the Vermont Legislature last week.

“The governor’s focus on the importance of investing in education and training, particularly for Vermonters who believe these doors are closed to them, is critical to efforts to build the Vermont economy of the future,” said Scott Giles, VSAC president & CEO.

“We know that the majority of the highest-paying and most in-demand jobs require post-secondary degree or training. Unfortunately, more than half of our young people are still not prepared for the jobs of the future. Investing in workforce development will create huge dividends for Vermont families and for the Vermont economy. VSAC looks forward to deepening our collaborations with lawmakers, businesses, and educators to support a Vermont workforce able to meet the needs of our economy now and in the future,” he said.

“Education is the greatest equalizer when it comes to economic opportunity,” said Giles, “The 802Opportunity Grant is 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.”

Affordable education opportunities

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 educational opportunity that works for them at a price that they can afford,” said Vermont State College Chancellor Sophie Zdatny last year when the program was announced. “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 upskill with a credential or degree thanks to this program. I am grateful to our state leaders and our partners at VSAC for their vision in making this program possible.”

“Too many Vermonters choose not to pursue a college education because of cost,” noted CCV President Joyce Judy last summer. “With this program, we are pleased to be able 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.”   

802Opportunity Grants available

Community College of Vermont offers associate programs leading to Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees. CCV also offers 22 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 in 2021. That approval meant that Vermont joined 14 other states that have made community college tuition-free for income-eligible students.

For more information on 802Opportunity, visit vsac.org/802Opportunity 

For information on college and career planning and help with financial aid, go to www.vsac.org/FAFSAfirst and check out our online workshops and events. You can also give us a call at 800-642-3177, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and online at info@vsac.org