Vermont College Offers Juniors, Seniors $10K to Take Semester Off

Facing a post-pandemic housing crunch and worries of overcrowding, Middlebury College in Vermont is offering a unique incentive to a limited number of juniors and seniors: Take the semester off for $10,000.
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Published on August 7, 2023
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  • Middlebury College in Vermont is offering 30 rising juniors and seniors who would otherwise be living in on-campus housing $10,000 to take the semester off.
  • Middlebury's offer comes as the school is facing a post-pandemic housing crunch on campus.
  • The school let students take leaves of absence during the pandemic to allow flexibility, but that has led to higher numbers of students returning to campus and a lack of housing for upperclass students.
  • The $10,000 is being offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

A private, liberal arts Vermont college has an unusual offer for rising juniors and seniors: Get $10,000 to take the fall 2023 semester off.

With a pandemic-related enrollment boom putting a squeeze on student housing, Middlebury College is offering 30 juniors and seniors who planned to live on campus $10,000 to take the semester off.

Middlebury College took a maximum flexibility strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an announcement from the school, allowing students to take leaves of absence and work toward their degree on their schedule. That means more students are completing their degree later and has led to a boom of students on campus as people who took a leave of absence come back to finish their degree.

The on-campus influx is temporary, according to the announcement.

This has temporarily created a higher demand for upperclass on-campus housing for the upcoming year, the Middlebury announcement reads. We want to note that this challenge is not related to the size of the incoming first-year class and that we expect to return to normal undergraduate enrollment levels in the spring, as we will be graduating a larger than usual class.

The $10,000 stipend is being offered on a first-come, first-serve basis to 30 juniors and seniors who opt into the voluntary leave of absence for the fall 2023 semester and winter term. It is available only to students who would otherwise live on campus in the fall.

We are committed to providing the best possible academic and residential experience to our students and have taken a number of other measures to address the higher than usual enrollments, the message to students reads.

In addition to the smaller incoming first-year class, those measures include different study abroad incentives for all classes, and extending for another year permission for a larger number of students to live off campus.

While Middlebury's housing woes are temporary, many U.S. colleges and universities have struggled with housing access and accommodations for students since the COVID-19 shutdowns.

California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt struggled with a housing shortage after it became California's latest polytechnic institute, BestColleges previously reported, and sent students to nearby hotels in a bid to meet demand.

The University of Utah, facing a lack of housing amid an enrollment boom, took a unique approach to house its growing student body last year in asking alumni to open their homes to students for $5,000 a semester.