CONCORD, NH – A two-year tuition freeze at the University System of NH is over, which will mean budget cuts and tuition hikes for students come fall to compensate for a $9 million state funding shortfall.
The tuition hike will affect the system-wide network of colleges, including University of New Hampshire, Plymouth University, Keene State College and Granite State College.
In a press release issued Monday, USNH Trustees called for a 2.75 percent tuition increase, described as “the smallest in-state increase in over 10 years:”
Recognizing the challenging state budget environment, Trustees had lowered their original request from $100 million to $90 million in FY 2016 and prioritized the freezing of tuition. With state funding currently budgeted for $81 million for FY 2016, a $9 million shortfall needed to be addressed. At their meeting on Friday, the USNH Board of Trustees and presidents reaffirmed their commitment to high academic quality at the most affordable tuition rates. They chose to take a multi-prong approach in setting in-state tuition rates for FY 2016 that would lessen the burden on New Hampshire students and their families.
The $9 million dollar gap will be addressed through campus expense cuts and a 2.75 percent tuition increase, the smallest in-state increase in over 10 years prior to the tuition freeze. Should additional state funding be made possible, every state dollar will be used to offset student cost. In light of continued state funding pressures, the Board has committed to a substantive strategic review that could lead to difficult choices ahead.
“While we understand the fiscal challenges facing our state, we are disappointed that we cannot freeze in-state tuition for an additional two years.” said Pamela Diamantis, chair of the USNH Board of Trustees. “While USNH is rated as the most efficient university system in New England with the lowest administrative cost per student, we will continue to take steps to review expenses in order to keep tuition as low as possible.”
“It is critical for the future of our state that we keep public higher education affordable while also maintaining high quality standards. We will continue to work with state lawmakers, our partners in the business community and most of all, our students and their families, to provide a worldclass education at the lowest possible price,” stated Chancellor Todd Leach. State funding is the major factor in determining in-state tuition level
Gov. Maggie Hassan issued the following statement on the tuition increase Monday afternoon:
“In order to keep more of our young people here in New Hampshire and help our workers develop the skills and critical thinking needed for success in the 21st century innovation economy, we must ensure that all of our people have access to affordable higher education. We took an important step toward that goal with our bipartisan efforts to freeze in-state tuition at the University System of New Hampshire over the past two years, the first tuition freeze at the university system in 25 years. The university system has also developed innovative programs to provide our students with lower-cost options, but we must do more to hold down the cost of higher education.
“I appreciate the university system’s efforts to minimize this increase despite the fact that the budget passed by the legislature did not provide any year-to-year increase for higher education. Moving forward, we must do more to hold down the cost of tuition, which is exactly why we cannot afford unpaid-for corporate tax cuts that would create a significant budget hole at the expense of higher education and other critical economic priorities.”