Letter: Fund the future

Friday, May 19, 2017
Fund the future

This time each year, high school seniors commit to colleges, celebrate with family and proudly post their decisions on our school’s decision wall.

As a senior, I took great pride in watching my classmates commit to schools across the globe. This year showed a noticeable trend: Fewer students than ever are attending college in-state. In 2013, 12 students from Kearsarge attended UNH; this year, four will. This trend is not unique to Kearsarge: Students are fleeing New Hampshire in droves, driven out by the highest in-state tuition in the country.

This fall, incoming freshmen at UNH can expect to pay $17,624 in tuition. In Wyoming, the bill is $4,892. This discrepancy is partially due to lack of funding. State higher education funding was savaged by the recession, and while it has since rebounded, it remains $29 million short of its pre-recession high. In this regard, New Hampshire lags behind its neighbors. Maine provided twice as much funding per capita in 2015, while Vermont invested one-third more.

Economic growth is among the priorities of every legislator during campaign season. Once elected, however, the rhetoric doesn’t match results. The Senate’s budget flat-funds the University System at last year’s levels, while the House version eliminated even Gov. Chris Sununu’s modest increase in scholarship funding. Every dollar spent funding higher education is a critical investment in our state’s economic future.

If legislators want to get serious about fighting the economic challenges facing our state, adequately funding higher education would be a promising start.

Eric G. Scheuch

New London