Thursday December 13, 2012
VSECU credit union has selected Chelsea Poland of South Burlington to receive the Service to Vermonters award for her contribution to serving Vermonters in a variety of volunteer and job positions. VSECU will pay Poland’s monthly student loans up to a total amount of $5,000.
Earlier this year, VSECU developed Student Loan Independence for Today (LIFT), a loan repayment program, to help lift the burden of student debt. Unlike a college scholarship that typically pays a lump sum in advance of completing higher education, VSECU wanted to award individuals who have already proven their commitment to their education. The award is designed to help reduce the financial stress of making student loan payments while also struggling to make ends meet while looking for a job, managing monthly cash flow or trying to take care of other financial responsibilities.
There were 114 applications considered for one of three awards in the categories of Essay, Service to Vermonters, and Financial Literacy.
“It’s almost a double edge sword that a college degree is needed to be hired for a good paying job but at the same time, the cost of obtaining that degree is costly as tuition continues to rise and employment rates, especially for younger people, are low or in low paying jobs in this market,” said Jana Bagwell, VSECU Board Director and Chair of Community Contributions. “Carrying that debt can sometimes make it almost impossible to make ends meet.”
The award program was open to any Vermont resident member who could demonstrate current student debt. “We received applications from new graduates and from individuals who are still carrying debt from earning a college degree years ago,” said Bagwell. “One of the award recipients graduated eight years ago and is still trying to manage a monthly cash flow for basic living expenses while paying down an outstanding student loan balance of $30,000.”
VSECU intends to offer the award program again in late spring 2013.