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Qualified students to attend UNH for free

Union Leader Correspondent

February 22. 2017 9:49AM
First-year, full-time students in Manchester and Durham who are eligible for federal Pell Grants will get free tuition to UNH starting next fall. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Correspondent)

DURHAM — Starting next academic year, the University of New Hampshire is offering free tuition to qualified students who meet certain financial requirements.

Called the “Granite Guarantee,” the scholarship program will cover tuition for first-year, full-time students who receive federal Pell Grants (a maximum of about $5,800). As long as the students are making satisfactory progress toward their degrees, they get free tuition for four years.

UNH President Mark Huddleston said Wednesday morning it has been a personal mission for him to make sure smart, but financially needy, students have access to a college education. Huddleston is a first-generation college graduate.

“We feel that it’s a central part of our mission to serve kids who don’t have other options,” Huddleston said. 

Approximately 285 incoming freshmen in Durham and Manchester will benefit from the scholarship money, which is made possible by the Celebrate 150 fundraising campaign. Student support and scholarships are a priority of the $275 million campaign marking the university’s 150th anniversary. 

UNH tuition and fees are currently $17,624 for full-time students in Durham, and about $14,500 in Manchester.

According to UNH spokesman Erika Mantz, Granite Guarantee recipients will receive approximately $4.8 million in federal, state and UNH institutional merit and grant aid in the first year of the program. Mantz said these estimates are based upon information available about students entering the university last fall.

Huddleston plans to continue raising money for the program this spring. He said he will visit alumni, family and friends in California, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta and other locations throughout the country. 

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, said she is thrilled about the new program.

“New Hampshire students have the highest levels of student debt in the country, and this new program is a great example of the efforts we need to make college affordable,” Shaheen said.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, said UNH’s announcement is excellent news for young Granite Staters and their families.

“I commend UNH and everyone who helped make this scholarship program possible for demonstrating a strong commitment to creating a brighter future for our young people and for our entire state,” Hassan said. She vowed to work with UNH to advocate for strengthening and maximizing funding for the Pell Grant program.

Gov. Chris Sununu applauded UNH for the “game-changing opportunity for some of New Hampshire’s most high-need students.”

“UNH’s Granite Guarantee lends opportunities for low-income New Hampshire students to seek higher education and explore workforce pathways that may not have otherwise seemed possible,” Sununu said.

Students who qualify for the Granite Guarantee don’t need to submit any additional letters or applications after their financial aid application is complete. The admission application deadline for next year is March 1.

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