My Turn: It’s not just illegal immigrants who are treated unfairly by state tuition policies
When the New Hampshire House voted 188-155 to pass a bill in which students who entered the U.S. illegally would get New Hampshire in-state tuition, Rep. Andrew Schmidt was quoted as saying, “If we deny in-state tuition to a child brought here (while) young, we are punishing that child for the sins of his parents.”
Unfortunately, all college-age children who were born and raised in the state of New Hampshire are being punished for the sins of their parents.
New Hampshire has the dubious distinction of having among the highest in-state tuition rates for both the university and community college systems in the nation. It is no surprise that when it comes to student debt, New Hampshire students fare the worst. Year after year, New Hampshire is ranked No. 1 for student debt. New Hampshire students graduate on average with more than $33,000 of debt.
Because of the Legislature’s consistent poor funding of the university system and the community college system, children born and raised in New Hampshire are at a disadvantage. To help fund the budget, 40 percent of the University of New Hampshire’s students are from out-of-state, even though state law since 1981 has required that out-of-state students make up no more than 25 percent of all undergraduate students. If children of illegal immigrants take the shrinking spots available for in-state students, where will those children who were born and raised in New Hampshire go?
If you are a New Hampshire resident with school-age children, move! Give your children the opportunity to attend a community college in Texas for $2,200 per year, or perhaps California for $1,400 per year. Or stay here and they can attend a New Hampshire community college for $6,700 per year.
Looking for a four-year, in-state college? Maybe you should move to Wyoming where the tuition is less than $4,500 per year, or Utah, with an annual tuition of less than $6,000. Stay in New Hampshire, and if your student is lucky enough to get the ever shrinking in-state tuition spots, you can spend in excess of $14,500 per year not including room and board, books and fees.
The residents of New Hampshire have a decision to make. Do they value education or not?
If the state does not properly fund education, it should close the university and community college systems. New Hampshire is punishing its college-age children by forcing them into the workplace with an insurmountable amount of debt.
Schmidt is partially correct. New Hampshire should not punish the children of legal New Hampshire residents for the sins of their parents. In New Hampshire, this has nothing to do with immigration reform.
(Laura Z. Morgan of Hopkinton is a 1980 graduate of the University of New Hampshire and a full professor at NHTI. Her son is a freshman at a four-year university in North Carolina.)