$4.5 Million in Grants Support Vermont’s First Generation College Students


File photo of the Lyndon campus.

New grants add to $250,000 in congressional-directed spending secured by Congressman Peter Welch to support aspiring college students

Vermont Business Magazine A total of $4.5 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education has been awarded to support first-generation college students in Vermont.

Northern Vermont University-Johnson received a five-year, $2.7 million grant, and Northern Vermont University-Lyndon received a five-year, $1.8 million grant for its Upward Bound programs. The grants will continue to support the Upward Bound program when NVU unifies with Castleton University and Vermont Technical College to become Vermont State University in July 2023.

Upward Bound is one of the United States. Department of Education TRIO programs and is free to eligible participating students. Students are eligible if neither parent has earned a bachelor’s degree or if the family has a low to moderate income, as per federal guidelines. Congressman Peter Welch recently secured $250,000 in congressional directed spending to top up TRIO funding at NVU-Lyndon.

“These new grants will expand educational and economic opportunities for Vermont’s first generation and low-income students,” Welch said. “With support from Upward Bound, aspiring students will get the help they need to thrive and build the future they want. It was a privilege to have worked with Vermont State Colleges and local leaders to secure this additional funding. I will continue to work to ensure Vermont students have the support they need to grow and succeed.

Fifty-three percent of NVU-Lyndon students are first-generation and/or low-income. These students often have more difficulty staying in university than students from high-income, non-first-generation families.

“This funding not only illustrates the commitment Northern Vermont University has made to support the academic aspirations of moderate-income, first-generation students, but also reflects the hard work, dedication, and commitment of the staff and faculty at the Upward Bound program itself,” said Tony Blueter, director of Upward Bound programs at NVU’s Johnson campus, where staff and faculty work with more than 100 students from seven area high schools each year. It is the longest continuously funded Upward Bound program in Vermont, having received its first award in 1971. At NVU-Lyndon, the program operates annually with 75 students, at 10 area high schools.

Similar programs are also offered at Castleton University and Vermont Technical College.

  • At Castleton University, the Upward Bound program is 100% federally funded at $610,080 per year.

  • Vermont Technical College’s TRIO/SSS program helps low-income first-generation students or students with disabilities succeed in college. Each year, 75% of incoming Vermont Technical College students qualify under one of these criteria.

Danby Vt.’s Daiton Amsden, who will be entering NVU-Johnson this fall as a freshman, credits Castleton University’s Upward Bound Early College program for starting her on the path to higher education.

“As a low-income student, I couldn’t have afforded the SAT and AP tests, or any college prep,” she said. “I started Upward Bound in my freshman year at Mill River Union High School. Not only did I learn a lot, but I made some amazing friends and relationships. To live the life I want, I gotta go to college. I’m so excited for my first day! Amsden now serves as a junior mentor to other Upward Bound students.

All Upward Bound/TRIO/SSS programs at institutions that will include Vermont State University offer college tuition, academic counseling and study skills assistance, financial aid workshops, career advice and job information, transfer advice and resume assistance, tutoring, peer mentoring, learning-style assessment and regular meetings with professional staff as well as volunteer work study positions, campus activities and the opportunity to live in a university residence.

The Upward program is just one example of how Vermont State University is seeking to expand access to more aspiring college graduates through initiatives that make college affordable for more people.


Since 1964, across the country, millions of high school students from moderate-income homes have become the first members of their families to graduate from college through federally funded TRIO Upward Bound programs that operate in every state. . Established as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, these programs invite high school students from low-income families to study on a college campus. During the school year, Upward Bound participants benefit from a comprehensive college preparation program and services. Each summer, Upward Bound offers participants six weeks of college and career readiness programs, offering additional college visits, summer enrichment classes (including dual-enrollment course opportunities ), community service opportunities, leadership development, and other cultural and educational activities designed to prepare for the upcoming school year and be accepted into a post-secondary program. Upward Bound is one of the federally funded TRIO programs across the United States. Department of Education and is free to any eligible participating student.


Northern Vermont University is a two-campus higher education institution that combines the best of our campuses’ nationally recognized liberal and professional arts programs. At Northern Vermont University, our goal is to guide curious, motivated, and engaged students on their path to success and their place in the world. NVU Online offers flexible, affordable, and high-quality options for learners pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as certificates. NVU offers a full range of associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, as well as credited and noncredited certificates and professional development courses. On July 1, 2023, Northern Vermont University will partner with Castleton University and Vermont Technical College to become Vermont State University, a reimagined institution of higher education building on the strong heritage of its founding institutions. Learn more at NorthernVermont.edu.


Combining and building on the histories of Castleton University, Northern Vermont University, and Vermont Technical College, Vermont State University will become a single accredited institution on July 1, 2023. Learn more at VermontState.edu.

Vermont State University will provide high-quality, flexible, and affordable education at five primary sites and additional learning sites across the state of Vermont and beyond. Students will be able to earn bachelor’s, graduate, and associate degrees as well as certificates in technology, professional, and liberal arts programs offered in-person, hybrid, or online. Through community partnerships, students will engage in research, internships, volunteer work, and real-world work experiences. We will foster a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice and strive to be a welcoming, diverse and inclusive learning and working environment. The university is built on a history of public higher education in Vermont dating back to 1787.

22.08.2022. Lyndon, Vermont – Vermont State University and Vermont Technical College VermontState.edu


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