COVID-19 updates & ways VSAC can help
Giving Undergraduates Important Information and Direction in their Education
The GUIDE program supports Vermont State GEAR UP students through their first-year transition after high school.
If you were you a GEAR UP student in high school, do you have plans to attend a training program, trade school, or college after high school?
Here are some great resources and links to help you with planning.
Great! You’re a part of the GUIDE Program.
To find out what we offer, check out your GUIDE Backpack > below.
Your GEAR UP Scholarship
- Step One: Log into your MyVSAC account.
- Step Two: Under “Scholarships,” select “Work with VSAC Assisted Scholarships.”
- Step Three: Under “Scholarships Management,” select “Scholarships.”
- Step Four: If you see your GEAR UP Scholarship listed, is it going to the right school? Select “Institution Information” to check:
If you don’t see your scholarship listed, e-mail Jessica Smith. She can help you.
- You can also ask your financial aid office: “What do I need to do to keep my scholarships? Are they renewable?”
NOTE: Are you planning to transfer schools during or after your first year in college? Your GEAR UP Scholarship automatically renews unless you transfer schools. Update the transfer by logging into your MyVSAC account. and completing the Unified Scholarship Application.
Navigating Bills and Financial Aid
- Decode and compare award letters:
- Use online tools to compare award financial aid award offers:
- Watch this video about reading and understanding your offers.
- Visit VSAC's blog post to to hear a student on Vermont Edition talk about understanding her offers.
- If you have questions about your bill, call your financial aid office and ask:
- Can you walk me through my bill?
- How much do I owe?
- What other costs are associated with my program—travel, computer, uniforms, equipment, supplies? Do I need to pay for college health insurance?
- Look into your options if your school bill is more than the amount in your financial aid offer.
- Contact you school financial aid office to ask how to appeal your financial aid award.
- Read this NerdWallet blog about how to write a financial aid appeal letter.
- Use this free online tool to create an appeal letter.
- Contact VSAC’s Grants Department to request an Estimated 2020 Income Worksheet. The Grants Department will look at your estimated income for 2020, rather than what you entered in your FAFSA (2018).
Ask your school financial aid office about how to set up a payment plan.
- Do you need to take out private loans? You’re not alone. Among the class or 2019, 69% of students took out federal and private loans to finance their education.
Be an informed consumer. Shop around. Compare interest rates. Here are resources to help you get started:
- VSAC Loan Department can answer your loan questions: Call 800-226-1029 Monday–Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm or visit vsac.org/loans.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explains how to choose a loan that's right for you.
- Contact the bank or lending institution where you already have an account. Ask about student loan options and interest rates.
- Learn about cosigners.
- Learn about how loan interest works.
- Wondering about student loan repayment? Use this calculator to estimate monthly payments after graduation.
- When it's time to start repaying your loans, check out these student loan repayment resources:
Text messaging to get help and advice
GUIDE text messaging can provide:
- helpful reminders.
- access to a GUIDE counselor to answer your questions.
- parents/guardians and students with similar reminders and updates to keep everyone on the same page.
“Opt in” and get started:
- Each high school graduating class has their own text number. Send a message to the phone number that goes with your graduating class year:
- Grad Year 2019: (802) 230-7971
- Grad Year 2020: (802) 234-8205
- You’ll be prompted to text your first and last name and your high school. We’ll get you set up from there.
If you aren’t receiving text messages, e-mail Jessica Smith or text the phone number that matches your grad year from high school.
GUIDE Passport: Connecting to Supports and Earning Textbook Money
Meet with a GUIDE counselor for your GUIDE check-in and earn $300 toward 1st and 2nd semester books. Schedule your meeting now >
For more information, open your GUIDE passport.
And click on each school's green bar for links to additional resources.
- Castleton University
- Community College of Vermont
- Northern Vermont University–Johnson
- Northern Vermont University–Lyndon
- University of Vermont
- Vermont Technical College
- Out-of-State and Vermont Private Colleges
- Search online to see if your school has TRIO/Student Support Services, free tutoring, academic support, etc.
- Find contact information on your school’s financial aid webpage.