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N.H. community colleges reduce tuition by 5 percent

Classes at New Hampshire’s seven community colleges will be a little less expensive next year.

Following through on a promise he made last year, Chancellor Ross Gittell and Trustee Chairman Paul Holloway announced yesterday that an increase in state funding allowed the Community College System of New Hampshire to reduce tuition by 5 percent.

“We committed to the governor and Legislature that investing in the community colleges would help New Hampshire families and New Hampshire’s economy,” Holloway said in a statement.

“We have invested in programs like advanced manufacturing and health professions, which helps employers fill high-skilled jobs and strengthens our state’s economy,” he said. “And we focused on innovation and efficiencies that help us achieve our mission more cost-effectively for students, families and taxpayers.”

Last year was the fourth year since 2006 the colleges froze tuition, though meeting lower budgets set by lawmakers meant eliminating courses this year. In 2012 and 2013, state lawmakers included $31.6 million and $32 million, respectively, for the community college system, down from $37.5 million in 2011.

In this fiscal year, the community college funding was restored to the 2011 level, and in the fiscal year beginning in July, the funding will increase.

“Making higher education more affordable for all of our families is one of my highest priorities as we work to build a stronger workforce that will lead to innovative economic growth,” Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement.

A three-credit course will cost $600 for an in-state student next year, down from $630. A full-time, 12-credit semester will cost $4,800 for an in-state student, down from $5,040. Ninety-five percent of New Hampshire’s community college students are in-state residents.

The system is deploying new methods to cut spending next year, too, spokeswoman Shannon Reid said.

Certain online classes hosted by one campus will be available to students from any of the seven campuses next year, she said.

“It means we’re broadening what we’re able to offer without duplicating to cost,” she said. “We’re just in the beginnings of this, starting this fall to an extent, but the intention is to add to it and build on it.”

New Hampshire’s public university system, which includes the University of New Hampshire, Plymouth State University, Keene State College and Granite State College, announced a two-year tuition freeze last fall, covering the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years, after its funding was also partially restored from a cut by the Legislature in 2011.

“We were pleased to work with the governor’s office and Legislature toward a partial funding restoration that helped to make this tuition freeze possible,” said spokeswoman Tiffany Eddy.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.

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