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State colleges and universities to cut costs by lowering employee benefits 

  • Summary of goals and benefit rates for University System of New Hampshire benefit reductions. Ben Domaingue—Ben Domaingue

  • Summary of goals and benefit rates for University System of New Hampshire benefit reductions. Ben Domaingue—Ben Domaingue

  • Summary of goals and benefit rates for University System of New Hampshire benefit reductions. Ben Domaingue—Ben Domaingue

  • University of New Hampshire Dan Tuohy

Monitor staff
Published: 10/22/2021 4:47:33 PM

In a cost cutting move, the University System of New Hampshire is planning to decrease its retirement contributions and lower benefits for many of its full-time staff.

The system is looking to reduce system-wide spending by $17 million, or roughly $3,800 per employee by fiscal year 2023. The initiative began in 2018, addressing “fringe sustainability.”

Recently, USNH has reduced the value of its medical plan through design changes, and committed to a 3% USNH subsidy cap, resulting in a greater individual contribution for staff and faculty.

James McGrail, Chief Human Resources Officer for USNH, notes that the system is looking to fall more in line with its higher education peers in spending.

“We still have a long way to go on this, to get to our peers,” said McGrail.

USNH is planning to reduce its retirement match to 8%, down from 10% previously. The system is also planning on removing dental coverage for employees, instead opting for a 100% employee contribution, making the benefit opt-in.

“Faculty unions have not moved onto the new plan, we’ve delayed the match for non-union until next year,” said McGrail.

The state’s universities and colleges have been successful in reducing operating costs across the board through layoffs and other savings measures. According to data provided by the system, all four presidents have met their current goals of savings.

USNH has seen a reduction in funding from all angles, most notably, the state of New Hampshire, which contributes the least in the country to public education. As a result, in-state tuition and student debt remain high in the Granite State.

The University of New Hampshire, the state’s flagship campus, has seen a rising deficit and shrinking freshmen classes.

To combat rising costs, USNH has also implemented the COVID Enhanced Retirement Program to act as a buy-out for veteran employees. For UNH, 291 staff have taken advantage of this, with a targeted net savings of $21 million in payroll.

Delaying this match is a $2 million impact for the system, which has remained in the red for years.

Despite this, the University of New Hampshire was ranked No.1 for value among public institutions in New England, according to the U.S. News & World Report.




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