BENNINGTON >> The Vermont State Employee's Credit Union has launched its annual Student Loan Independence For Today (LIFT) program, which will help three Vermonters pay off their student loans.
VSECU, a member-owned cooperative and not for profit credit union with a branch at 194 North Street in Bennington, announced on Monday that it is now accepting applications for the program. The program, now in its sixth year, will award $15,000 to three selected winners, $5,000 each, to help them make student loan payments.
"The award program is unique as instead of providing an up-front scholarship, it's focused on helping graduates and former students repay the debt they incurred while seeking higher education," said VSECU's Rebecca Kelley.
Research from the Institute for College Access and Success found that 65 percent of Vermonters hold student debt balances, with an average debt of $29,060.
"Scholarships that provide upfront funds to pay for higher education are incredibly valuable for students and families," said Rob Miller, CEO of VSECU, "But we know that the majority of Vermonters still have to take out student loans to pay for their education, and those ongoing monthly payments create a significant financial burden. Understanding the impact of carrying such debt inspired us to start Student LIFT, which we designed to help alleviate that post-education debt so that former students can afford to meet their essential needs."
As part of the application process, VSECU challenges qualified applicants to come up with an idea that will help impact and improve our communities statewide. To be qualified, an applicant must be a member of VSECU that is currently making student loan payments. Graduation from college is not a requirement to apply. For more information and to apply, visit VSECU's website at www.vsecu.com. Applications are due by Oct. 10.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.