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- Blake, class of '22 at Williamstown High School, completed his senior year at CCV through the Early College Program and was one of the first to take advantage of the Free Degree Promise. He's on track to graduate with an associate's degree in business this spring and plans to become a licensed electrician.
Since 2013, Vermont teens have been eligible for the Early College Program, which lets students complete their last year of high school and their first year of college at the same time — for free — at one of six approved colleges. Last spring, the J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation announced it would fund a second free year for students enrolled in the Early College Program at the Community College of Vermont, allowing them to earn an associate's degree at no cost one year after graduating from high school.
The initiative, called the Free Degree Promise, also includes a living stipend and career counseling. All students currently enrolled in grades 9 through 11 are eligible to participate, along with high school students currently enrolled in the Early College Program at CCV.
This five-year commitment is testing whether giving students access to a free education will make them more likely to enroll in postsecondary classes.
A year into the experiment, the answer appears to be yes.
This fall, CCV reported its largest Early College enrollment ever: 198 students, 39 percent of whom are first-generation college students and 42 percent of whom are identified as low-income by their school counselor, according to the McClure Foundation. That total represents a 30 percent increase in the number of students enrolled from low-income families.
Find more information about the McClure Free Degree Promise at ccv.edu/freedegree.