by Shannon Reid
Concord, NH – The Board of Trustees of the Community College System of NH (CCSNH) today voted to freeze tuition for the 2016-17 academic year, formalizing a commitment made to legislators and the Governor during the development of the state’s biennial operating budget for FY16-17. In-state tuition will remain at $200/credit, which translates into roughly $6,000 for a year for full-time tuition.
The board took the vote at its meeting Thursday June 2 at the River Valley Community College’s Lebanon academic center, which opened earlier this year to serve students and businesses in NH’s Upper Valley.
Tuition at the state’s seven community colleges has not risen since 2011. In 2014 CCSNH decreased its per credit rate 5 percent to its present level of $200. System leaders felt it was important to arrest the trend of escalating tuition costs and worked with state budget-writers on funding levels that would enable the years of freezes and the reduction.
Gov. Hassan today issued a statement in which she said “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. Through partnerships with the business community, nimble and cutting-edge programs and extensive online education options, their efforts are helping develop a stronger workforce pipeline that can help existing businesses grow and attract new companies to our state. After reducing in-state tuition in 2014 and freezing in-state tuition in 2015 and again in 2016, the Community College System of New Hampshire has been constant in its dedication to accessible and affordable higher education, and I am grateful for their unyielding commitment to the success of our students and our state.”
“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. Gittell noted that the unemployment rate for the most recent graduates with associate degrees (those 20-24 in age) in NH is 1 percent, compared to 10 percent for young adults without a post-secondary credential. The community colleges focus on offering affordable, high quality programs that prepare graduates for successful employment as well as for transfer to four-year colleges and universities.
CCSNH and the University System of NH recently launched a new Dual Admission program enabling students to be dually admitted to a community college and UNH, Keene, Plymouth State or Granite State College and upon successful completion of an associate degree from the community college, transfer to the USNH institution to complete a bachelor’s degree. While the Dual Admission program is designed for liberal arts majors, there are many other transfer agreements in place that offer pathways in specific disciplines including STEM fields with USNH and other institutions including Southern NH University. Some of these pathways enable students to complete the bachelor’s degree at community college tuition rates, such as a new nursing “3+1” program which enables community college-trained Registered Nurses with an associate degree to earn a bachelor’s of science in Nursing through Granite State College at the community college tuition rate.
“Looking forward, we hope for support in the state operating budget so that college in NH can continue to be affordable for students and families and so that we can invest in programs and people,” said Paul Holloway, chairman of the CCSNH board of trustees. “New Hampshire’s economy depends on the skill level of its population and on providing access to affordable postsecondary educational opportunities. We want our state residents to find those opportunities here in their home state.” Holloway noted that 93 percent of CCSNH students are NH residents.