Vermont Arts Council

Summer 2020 Governor’s Institutes Go Virtual, New Pay-What-You-Can Tuition

For over three decades, talented young Vermonters have gathered each summer for the Governor’s Institutes: college-level academic and artistic enrichment programs where students dive deep into their passions on campuses across the state. When the Covid-19 pandemic began, this summer tradition as much as any was under threat of cancellation, but in early April it was decided the Institutes must go on—virtually.

For the first time in its history, the Governor’s Institute will be held not on residential campuses like UVM, Castleton, Goddard, and Bennington, but in students’ homes and on their screens. As jarring as the loss of an on-campus experience may be, GIV prefers to think of it as an opportunity to innovate, and to double down on their mission of giving all Vermonters access to exceptional, student-centered education.

“GIV is here to help Vermont’s bright young learners and artists maximize their potential, regardless of their background or barriers,” says Barry Steyling, GIV’s Outreach and Recruitment Manager. “Even in regular years, that underlies everything we do—but this year, it’s more important than ever.”

Photo courtesy of Governor’s Institutes of Vermont.

The Governor’s Institutes of Vermont started in 1982 as a program of the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Agency of Education, and it has always prioritized equitable to students from all demographic and economic backgrounds. In previous years students’ families have paid tuition on a sliding scale, and this year GIV is offering what Barry calls a “sliding scale on steroids” with their “Pay-What-You-Can” tuition. With their traditional sliding-scale model, GIV in recent years has been able to award financial aid to 100% of the students who’ve requested aid. This year there is no need to request it—no financial aid application is needed, no matter your ability to pay. Applications for the summer 2020 Institutes are still being accepted and encouraged.

Most importantly, GIV promises to make the summer 2020 Institutes an immersive, community-driven experience to meet that of their on-campus Institutes—a goal they’re working toward in consultation with pros likes the Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative, and with the professional dedication of their Institute directors. During this summer’s Institutes, students will work from computers and mobile devices for a few hours a day, and they will still pursue hands-on, independent or team-based research and projects, self-selected in the disciplines that most excite their passion.

Learn more about this summer’s online Governor’s Institutes, and apply with their new pay-what-you-can tuition model at