Middlebury College pays students $10K to take the year off

Tight housing, post-pandemic demand prompt extraordinary offer

Too many upperclassmen wanted to attend Middlebury this year following leaves of absence due to the pandemic. The college is paying cash for students to take another leave of absence.

By Guy Page
Middlebury College will pay juniors and seniors $10,000 to take fall and winter semesters off, an August 3 letter from college officials to students and parents said.

The extraordinary measure is due to a Middlebury-area housing shortage worsened by leave of absences taken by students during the pandemic. The college announced August 3 that the offer was well-received and is now closed. 

The letter says: “We are writing with an update about the incentive program we announced on Monday. The program offered eligible juniors and seniors a $10,000 stipend to take a voluntary leave of absence for the fall semester and winter term. This offer is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure on-campus housing that will accommodate our larger than usual enrollment this fall.

After explaining that enough applications had been received and the stipend offer has now closed, Middlebury explained that the junior and senior class was bigger than usual due to leave of absences taken during the pandemic.

“The larger enrollments are the result of Middlebury offering maximum flexibility to all students during the pandemic. Many students decided to take a leave of absence and are now graduating later than scheduled. This has temporarily created a higher demand for junior and senior on-campus housing for the upcoming year.

Meanwhile, the editor of a prominent statewide newsletter for educators blames the statewide housing shortage for the declining number of applicants for educator jobs, especially superintendents. 

“One wonders how many job searches have come to a screeching halt when applicants start looking at the challenge of finding affordable housing here. Not many people in education can afford a $20 million mansion with a wine tasting room and an indoor pool,” Steven Berbeco, editor of 802 Ed, wrote in a recent editorial. 

“It’s worrying, then, that the mostly closed system of potential applicants shrinks once a year when many administrators’ licenses are up for renewal on July 1. Vermont now has 8% fewer people with superintendent licenses and 4% fewer people with principal licenses as compared to the start of the summer. That’s about 60 fewer potential job applicants from within the state,” Berbeco said. 

This can limit school boards’ options when recruiting a new superintendent. A recent national search to lead a Vermont supervisory union yielded ten applicants, then two finalists, neither of which worked out. The board then ran a search for an interim superintendent, again with two finalists and, fortunately, a selection — who had otherwise been looking forward to retirement. Compare that to a superintendent search last year in Anchorage, Alaska with more than twice the number of applicants and most of the finalists coming in from out of state.”

Categories: Education

5 replies »

  1. I do hope they were at least smart enough to put in writing that they would have to pay the money back if the student didn’t return, cause I think many will take the money and run to another state! OOPS

  2. Wonder if Vermont could do this with their legislative branch, fewer politicians, fewer laws, better Vermont, I’ll chip in some money to make it happen

  3. The winds of change are blowing on the institutes of higher learning. When it becomes clear the amount of debt accumlated to earn a degree does not equate or guarantee a “good paying” job, well, here’s your sign. When qualified applicants are not applying, the reason is likely said applicants are not down with the agendas they must follow or else. The smart ones are doing something else or working in woke-free education hubs. It appears learning a viable trade is less expensive, pays well, and doesn’t require being saddled with massive debt upon graduation. Pride goeth before the almighty fall. It is going to be an epic Fall according to the real numbers.

  4. We have far too many superintendents now. We should reduce the number of districts to no more than the number of Vocational Technical centers we have. And all small schools should be closed and consolidated, that reduces the need for principals and would alleviate the teacher shortage.
    Thus the struggling taxpayers would not be funding all the positions we currently fund which would reduce education property taxes.

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