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June 27. 2013 9:41PM

Funding boost means tuition freeze at New Hampshire's community colleges

The trustees of the Community College System of New Hampshire voted to freeze tuition in the coming academic year Thursday after passage of a state budget that boosts its funding by 25 percent in fiscal 2014. The cost will remain $210 per credit, $630 per course for in-state students.

State university system trustees are scheduled to address tuition at a meeting today, spokesman Erika Mantz said.

For the community colleges, in-state tuition for 2013-2014 academic year will remain at $210 per credit, or $630 for a three-credit course, the system said. The full academic-year cost of a minimum full-time course load will remain a $5,040.

Tuition for the students in New England Regional Student Program, which allows New England students to attend the colleges at a reduced rate under certain circumstances, will remain at $315 per credit. Out-of-state tuition will remain at $478 per credit, the system said.

System spokesman Shannon Reid said, "Legislators recognized the value of the work we're doing with industry to create education-to-career pathways to make sure that our programs are aligned with work force needs and to make sure that our programs are affordable."

Reid said it marks the fourth time since 2006 that the system has not raised tuitions.

She said the last tuition increase came in the 2011-2012 academic year, when in-state tuition jumped from $195 to $210 per credit. There was no increase in the just-concluded academic year, and as a result of the increased state funding, the freeze will continue in the next academic year, said Reid.

Reid said that in fiscal year 2011, the community college system received $37.5 million in state funding. Funding was cut to $31.6 million in fiscal 2012, with $2 million of it earmarked for a new advanced composites manufacturing program in Rochester.

In fiscal 2013, which ends on Sunday, funding for the system was $31.9 million.

The new two-year budget passed by lawmakers on Wednesday and on its way to Gov. Maggie Hassan increases community college system funding to $40 million, and for fiscal 2013, it is set at $42.5 million, Reid said.

Hassan said in a statement, "From the start of the budget process, we set out to restore the deep cuts made by the last Legislature to our community colleges in exchange for a tuition freeze that would make a higher education more affordable for more Granite Staters, and I applaud the leadership of the Community College System of New Hampshire for their quick action.

"Our community colleges are developing innovative, nimble and cutting-edge programs to educate our citizens and provide them with the skills they need to secure high-quality jobs," Hassan said. "By aligning their programs with the needs of innovative businesses that are already here and looking to hire, our colleges are helping to place students in good jobs that can support middle class families. And by responding to the industries that are growing across our state, region and nation, the system is helping to attract new companies to keep our economy strong."

Hassan said the tuition freeze "will help more of our people afford this critical education in order to build a stronger work force, support innovative businesses and create good jobs that will lead to a bright economic future for all."

The system serves more than 27,000 students at its seven colleges: Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth and Rochester; Lakes Region Community College in Laconia; Manchester Community College, Nashua Community College; New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord; River Valley Community College in Claremont and Keene, and White Mountains Community College in Berlin and Littleton.

"The community colleges partner with New Hampshire employers and industry groups to meet work force needs and create education-to-career pathways in critical industries like advanced manufacturing, health, hospitality and STEM fields," said chancellor Ross Gittell. "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."

System board chairman Paul Holloway said, "New Hampshire's community colleges deliver high-quality, outstanding opportunities in career fields and transfer pathways, and they are within reach of every New Hampshire family and potential student.

"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 work force," Holloway said.

Reid said the system also received $8 million in the capital budget, which will be used to "strengthen our career and program facilities and to address critical maintenance needs."


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