When Burlington College closed last month, students got the impression that the transition to another college would be smooth, and their tuition might be the same. They’re now finding it's more complicated than that.
Students have received mixed signals from Burlington College about the ease — and expense — of attending one of the schools that the college had approached to accept its students.
On May 16, the day that Burlington College officials announced the school's closing, the assistant dean of student services sent an email to students assuring them, “...you will be able to choose from a list of area schools, you'll be automatically accepted, you're [sic] credits will all transfer and you will pay the same tuition...”
A second email on May 17 said basically the same thing, but didn’t include the tuition promise, and didn’t offer any explanation for the omission.
Since then, students have been trying to figure out what to do.
“They really have no idea about what they’re going to do going forward,” says Andrew Tarwerdi, who was president of Burlington College’s student government. Tarwerdi says there’s a lot of concern among students about finding a new school and getting transcripts from the now-defunct institution.
Tarwerdi says he got in touch with Marlboro College, because it was one of the institutions he was told he could transfer to under an agreement reached with Burlington College, but the response wasn’t promising.
“I didn’t really get the sense that there was any sort of special agreement actually in place. Or that that agreement was any different from the normal transfer process,” he says.
Tarwerdi says he discovered he could not enroll at his Burlington College tuition rate, which was less than $24,000 per year, and he got the impression he’d have to pay a much higher tuition at Marlboro.
“That was really the decisive factor,” he says.
Tarwerdi says it’s now likely he’ll stay in his home state of New York to go to college.
Meanwhile, Marlboro officials say depending on a student’s situation, tuition might be comparable to Burlington College.
They say no promises were made to Burlington College officials that students would be accepted automatically, although they’re offering more flexibility to help them.
The same is true for Champlain College.
“There has been some misunderstanding about what agreement we have with Burlington College,” says senior associate provost Michelle Miller. “It’s not automatic admission and it’s not all of their credits will transfer.”
The Vermont State College system says it will likely accept any Burlington College transfer requests it receives at state college tuition rates, and will accept all course credits.
Goddard College, too, says it will accept all transfer credits. Goddard tuition is lower than Burlington College.
It seems among schools with higher tuition, only Green Mountain College has agreed to match Burlington College tuition as well as "fast-track" applications – although acceptance will not be automatic there either, as promised in the emails to Burlington College students.