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Friday, June 28, 2013

NH Community colleges freeze tuition for next school year

Students at the state’s community colleges won’t be dishing out any more money to attend classes next year than they did this school year after the system’s board of trustees voted Thursday to freeze tuition.

“Keeping community colleges affordable enables not only the economic advancement of our state’s residents and families, but also the continued growth of an innovation-based economy, which relies on a highly skilled workforce,” said Paul Holloway, chairman of the board. ...

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Students at the state’s community colleges won’t be dishing out any more money to attend classes next year than they did this school year after the system’s board of trustees voted Thursday to freeze tuition.

“Keeping community colleges affordable enables not only the economic advancement of our state’s residents and families, but also the continued growth of an innovation-based economy, which relies on a highly skilled workforce,” said Paul Holloway, chairman of the board.

The move marks the fourth time since 2006 that the community college system has not raised its tuition.

“With this tuition freeze, we will help more of our people afford this critical education in order to build a stronger workforce, support innovative businesses and create good jobs that will lead to a bright economic future for all,” Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement Thursday.

CCSNH Chancellor Ross Gittell said if the Granite State wants to maintain its economic competitiveness, it must increase the number of residents with a college degree from 46 percent to 64 percent by 2018.

The community colleges, Gittell said, are the best vehicles to support this change.

“By keeping community colleges affordable, we expand opportunities for New Hampshire residents to gain higher education and workforce skills, improve their lives and employment prospects, and support economic growth in the state,” he said.

About 95 percent of the 27,000 students who attend community colleges in New Hampshire each year are state residents, many of whom start their college careers close to home and later transfer to a four-year institution.

It’s become an increasingly common option for students, as the cost of higher education rises among public and private institutions.

Particularly in New Hampshire, where students graduate with an average of $32,000 in debt, paying for college has become a burden for many families.

Gittell said the community colleges’ commitment to workforce education, and its partnerships with businesses around the state, will help ensure higher education leads to a strong career for students.

“Affordability and access are essential to our population, from the young person just starting out on an educational pathway to the adult seeking retraining in a new career field,” he said.

The vote to freeze tuition follows the passage of the state budget this week, which increased state aid to the community college system. Last year, system leaders vowed to freeze tuition if the state restored the funding cut in the last biennial budget.

With Thursday’s vote, in-state tuition for the 2013-14 school year will remain at $210 per credit, or $630 for a three-credit course. A full time student will pay $5,040 annually for tuition.

Running Start and eStart courses offered to local high school students for college credit also will not increase in cost, remaining at $150 per course.

Out-of-state tuition also will remain stable next year. Students from New England will pay $315 per credit, while other out-of-state students will pay $478 per credit.

The University System of New Hampshire also vowed to freeze in-state tuition rates with the passage of a budget that restored the funding cuts made in 2011.

Out-of-state tuition rates did rise at the state’s four-year colleges, however – by 1 percent at UNH, 3 percent at Plymouth State, 2.8 percent at Keene State and 3.4 percent at Granite State College.

The USNH Board of Trustees meets Friday, when they will discuss the fiscal 2014 operating budget and tuition rates.

Danielle Curtis can be reached at 594-6557 or dcurtis@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Curtis on Twitter (@Telegraph_DC).