Task force to study integrating NH colleges with its community colleges

The University of New Hampshire in Durham.

The University of New Hampshire in Durham. AP file

Monitor staff

Published: 10-25-2023 4:47 PM

Faced with a smaller pool of prospective students, one of the lowest levels of state support for public higher education, and the nation’s highest average student debt, New Hampshire will take another look at its public colleges and universities, including how to better incorporate them with the community colleges.

Gov. Sununu has signed an executive order establishing the Public Higher Education Task Force with the goals of increasing opportunities while meeting workforce needs, avoiding duplication of academic programs, creating “potential for economies of scale,” and streamlining “administrative costs and obligations.”

The seven-person task force, which includes one state senator and two state representatives as well as officials from the state’s University System and the Community College System, will report on its findings by March 31, 2024.

Average student loan debt for the graduating class of 2020 ranged from $18,344 in Utah up to $39,928 in New Hampshire, according to the latest data from The Institute for College Access and Success. The state provides one of the county’s lowest amounts of funding per public college student: $4,141 in 2020, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. Only Arizona and Colorado were lower.

The number of new high school graduates in New England is expected to shrink by nearly 13% by 2037, according to estimates from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

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