Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 75.15
Liaison Lori Collins-Hall
Submission Date March 5, 2021
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Sterling College (VT)
PA-7: Affordability and Access

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.21 / 4.00 Moxie Mehegan
Dean of Admission and Financial Aid
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have policies and programs to make it accessible and affordable to low-income students?:

A brief description of any policies and programs to minimize the cost of attendance for low-income students:

Sterling’s discount rate and thus net tuition revenue performance reflects a strategic decision to continue to invest in increasing selectivity and to fulfill our mission-articulated commitment to affordability with a long-term aspiration to be a tuition-free institution.

As a young and innovative college with deep roots, our strategic initiative and corresponding business model are based on increased levels of sustainable support from a diverse group of donors and foundations. Unlike most colleges which are tuition-dependent, Sterling generates 50-60% of its operating revenue from mission-aligned philanthropists.

Sterling's tuition is 20 percent less than what most other New England private colleges charge. As a result, Sterling graduates have 40% less loan debt then national average. 98% of Sterling College students receive institutional financial aid. Thanks to philanthropy, the Wendell Berry Farming Program is a tuition-free program and a model Sterling plans to expand to more programs of the College.

A brief description of any programs to equip the institution’s faculty and staff to better serve students from low-income backgrounds:

The Work Program allows faculty and staff to work with students from all backgrounds one-on-one, to create community together. The community needs the cooperation and the skills of everyone involved to prosper.

A brief description of the institution’s programs to guide and prepare students and families from low-income backgrounds for higher education:

Sterling College is small enough to allow greater one-on-one time with individual advisors. We also have a Dean of Community who is a resource for students of all backgrounds with issues with time management, study habits, and dealing with stress. Sterling College also has a half-time Learning Resource Coordinator; a Writing Center with writing tutors; and a math tutor as well.

A brief description of the institution's scholarships for low-income students:

We award Sterling College Grants to students based on need, as determined by FAFSA and the Sterling College financial aid application. The average Sterling Grant for a student for the 2017-2018 year was $21,426. Every year Sterling College commits more than $2 million to support student financial aid. From small semester grants to full-tuition scholarships, Sterling College works diligently to create an affordable academic experience.

A brief description of the institution’s targeted outreach to recruit students from low-income backgrounds:

The Admission Office does targeted outreach to students from low-income backgrounds by getting names from the College Board of students who have an interest in our majors and come from low-income families. We also do outreach to students from these backgrounds when we travel; and our affordability and that we're a Work College are messages we send to students from low-income backgrounds.

A brief description of the institution’s other policies or programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students:

Sterling provides a liberal transfer credit policy, granting transfer credit for courses in which a student earns a C or better. We accept credits from College Board: Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment, International Baccalaureate, A-Levels, Joint Services/Military Credits, as well as accredited 2-year and 4-year college programs. There is no expiration date on previously earned credits.

Does the institution have policies and programs to support non-traditional students?:

A brief description of the institution’s scholarships provided specifically for part-time students:

Sterling financial aid is most generally awarded to all students with need. All other scholarships and awards are determined based on the student's overall admission application who meet certain eligibility requirements.

A brief description of the institution’s on-site child care facility, partnership with a local facility, and/or subsidies or financial support to help meet the child care needs of students:

Sterling College is a child-friendly community -- it isn't uncommon to have the children of staff, faculty, or students in the dining hall, classrooms, community meetings, and college events. Sterling does not have a formal partnership although is in current conversation with Saplings, a daycare and preschool nonprofit serving our community, about the possibility for co-housing.

A brief description of the institution’s other policies and programs to support non-traditional students:

To support non-traditional students, and recognize their relevant learning prior to college, Sterling College offers a Lifelong Learning Portfolio (LLP) review process allowing students to gain academic credit through reflecting on their prior experience with respect to Sterling’s college-wide competencies. After enrolling at Sterling, students can meet with the Dean of Academics to propose a plan for one or more portfolio review courses. In these independent study courses, students work in concert with an advisor who is familiar with their area of interest to build a comprehensive portfolio of their lifelong learning experience.

This portfolio is intended to document a student’s learning and can include, for example, written work, other narrative documentation, illustrations, photographs, a resumé, transcripts, certificates, digital artifacts, projects, publications, letters of reference, and personal reflection. Details of each LLP course will be outlined in a proposal to be completed by a student and his/her advisor, and must be approved by the Dean of Academics.

Sterling offers a reduced course load, flexible scheduling, and independent studies to accommodate family and education needs along with tailored advising to students from non-traditional backgrounds.

Does the institution wish to pursue Part 2 of this credit (tracking accessibility and affordability)? (If data is not available, select 'No'):

The percentage of entering students that are low-income (0-100):

The graduation/success rate for low-income students (0-100):

On average, the percentage of need that was met for students who were awarded any need-based aid (e.g. as reported to the U.S. Common Data Set initiative, item H2) (0-100):

The percentage of students graduating with no interest-bearing student loan debt or for whom no out-of-pocket tuition is required (i.e. the percentage of graduates who have not taken out interest-bearing loans) (0-100):

Estimated percentage of students that participate in or directly benefit from the institution’s policies and programs to support low-income and non-traditional students (0-100):

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.