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Voices / Letters from readers

Ending student-loan portability would be a mistake

Those wishing to further their education after high school should pay close attention to two bills currently under consideration in the Vermont legislature.

H.114 and S.257 would place major restrictions on where students who are pursuing post-secondary education or training can spend their state-funded grants and scholarships. This issue is called “portability.”

For over 50 years, portability has allowed Vermont students to use these grants and scholarships to further their education, regardless of where they have chosen to attend college. If either bill passes in anything close to its current form, flexibility and freedom of choice for students will disappear.

I support portability for several reasons. First, a student may want to enroll in a program of study that is not offered by any college or university in Vermont. Veterinary medicine, cybersecurity, and health-care information technology are three examples.

Vermont’s students should have the right to pursue any curriculum in any state and have the right to apply their state-funded grants and scholarships to pay for it.

Second, any student, parent, or guidance counselor will affirm that the key to a successful post-secondary education is finding a good match for the student. Portability gives Vermont’s high-school graduates greater flexibility and choice in finding the post-secondary school and program that are best for them.

Third, many of the grants and scholarships awarded to Vermont students are need-based. Eliminating portability will disproportionately and adversely affect lower-income students — students whose families can least afford additional student debt.

I serve on the board of directors for the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) and have done so since 2004. In addition, I taught for 33 years in a small Windham County middle-high school and have lived in that community for 46 years.

I have seen firsthand the benefits of post-secondary education or training for hundreds of my former students. I believe strongly that students who graduate from Vermont’s high schools should have the financial flexibility to pursue their post-secondary goals and dreams, whether they do so in Vermont or beyond. Portability helps do that.

Dave Larsen
Wilmington

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Tamara Stenn
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Tamara Stenn (Brattleboro, Vermont, US) says...

Thanks for writing this Elayne. I was thinking the same thing myself. The silence we received from the hospital is quite deafening. Unfortunately we\'ve had to continue working with the hospital as other (minor) heath issues come up.

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Judith Skillman
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Judith Skillman (Newcastle, US) says...

Excellent and informative writing about the media and about the state of our nation. We must support the press speak truth to power, now more than ever before.

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

We are also obliged to criticize the press when they merely echo the lies of the powerful. In this case, much of the press has taken a side, not just against the policies of the President, but against the election itself on behalf of the parties of war and Wall St. Just as the US has in the past agitated in other countries for coups against democratic outcomes they don’t like, much of the press, including this editorial, is now agitating for a coup here at home.

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Peter Ford
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Peter Ford (Dallas) says...

Nailed it - Thank you.

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TB Smith
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TB Smith (Ba, Oklahoma, US) says...

The divisiveness brought on by this shamefully poor excuse for a president has been once again, borne out by this article, and the responses to it .. his most devoted followers are the most gullible and easily swayed sheeple since the \"Kool-Aid party in Jonestown\" ... those who stand up the most fervently to this dictator \"wanabe\", will , inthe end, see him and the fellow purveyors of his garbage rhetoric like FOX News, Alex Jones, Breitbart, etc., crumble and be dumped like stale crackers (pardon the pun) .. we must impeach this tyrant before too much damage is done, either from within or outside our borders.

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

So it’s OK that access to outlets that simply recognize Trump as President is indeed being shut down? But isn’t that exactly what this editorial is against? Should outlets that cheered on Obama’s wars and love of Wall St have likewise been shut down? Only John Birch Society–inspired screeds against Trump indicate the “legitimate” press?

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

TB Smith’s comment in apparent support of the us-vs-them tone of this editorial illustrates why so many people distrust so much of the press (although, again, it appears to be only pro-Trump and anti-imperialist outlets that are actually being shut down): They are promulgating hysterical claims about fascism, Russians, and “crackers” not in the interest of the people, but wholly on behalf of the neoliberal/neoconservative program of Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama to deny Trump the Presidency and even remove him from office – not democratically, but by coup if necessary. That makes the press rather anti-democratic and, indeed, against the people.

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Amelia Stone
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Amelia Stone (E Dummerston, Vermont, US) says...

Kudos to the Boston Globe for encouraging newspapers across the country to remind us all of the value of a free press, and to the Commons for hearing that call. The NYTimes article, A Free Press Needs You, concludes with the following: \"If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.\" Today I plan to subscribe.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #446 (Wednesday, February 14, 2018). This story appeared on page D3.

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