New Hampshire’s community colleges freeze tuition

  • Students walk through the campus of NHTI in Concord. Tuition at the community college will not rise again this year. Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 6/2/2016 11:55:55 PM

Keeping costs at a five-year low, the Community College System of New Hampshire will freeze its in-state tuition again next year.

Tuition at New Hampshire’s seven community colleges will remain at $200 per credit, which roughly equals $6,000 per year for full-time tuition.

Meanwhile, the University System of New Hampshire is planning to increase tuition for the state’s four-year public colleges for the second year in a row.

College affordability is a pressing issue for the state, which has some of the highest public tuition costs in the nation, and graduates from New Hampshire colleges rank second highest in the country for the amount of debt they carry, according to the Project on Student Debt.

The community college system board of trustees voted to freeze tuition Thursday at its meeting at River Valley Community College in Lebanon. Trustees have not raised tuition since 2011 and last year it reduced tuition by 5 percent, following legislators’ decision to support the system in the state budget.

“The success our graduates enjoy is the result of their hard work, the pathways students can follow from our colleges to skilled employment or continued education, and the dedication of faculty and staff across the seven community colleges,” said CCSNH Chancellor Ross Gittell in a statement.

Some of those pathways include a recently developed program allowing New Hampshire community college students who have completed an associate degree to enroll in the University of New Hampshire, Plymouth State University, Keene State College or Granite State College.

Gittell said the unemployment rate for young adult graduates with an associate degree is 1 percent, compared with 10 percent for young adults with no post-secondary education.

Still, the cost of higher education in New Hampshire schools remains high, whether at a two-or four-year institution. This is in part due to the fluctuating amount of funding for higher education from the state Legislature.

“USNH was able to offer a tuition freeze for two years, but received flat state funding in FY16 & FY17 of $81 million and was unable able to continue the freeze,” Chancellor Todd Leach said in a statement Thursday.

The University System of New Hampshire has increased student aid and National Guard tuition waivers, while lowering expenses to give it the lowest administrative cost per student of any public system in New England, Leach said.

Still, tuition will increase $360 per year at UNH, $320 per year at Plymouth State University, $268 per year at Keene State College and $7 per credit at Granite State College.

“It is critical for the future of our state that we keep public higher education affordable while also maintaining high quality standards that allow us to be competitive,” Leach said.

Even frozen at $200 per credit, the state’s community college tuition rates are still the highest in the country.

Gov. Maggie Hassan praised the tuition freeze and said the community college system has been doing good work to strengthen its partnerships with the business community.

“Our community colleges are nationally recognized for the value they provide to their students, and continue to lead in modernizing and innovating in higher education,” Hassan said, adding, “their efforts are helping develop a stronger workforce pipeline that can help existing businesses grow and attract new companies to our state.”

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @ella_ nilsen.)

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