University and Community College systems scorn dual enrollment, hurt NH students

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Kris Roberts
- Keene
University and Community College systems scorn dual enrollment, hurt NH students

Despite the fact that New Hampshire is one of the five states without a state Dual Enrollment Policy, the University system told members of the House Education Committee that there is no need for a study commission on dual enrollment because it was a local control issue and it was just an attempt to provide New Hampshire high school students with free college courses. The University System would rather that New Hampshire has a piece-meal approach to dual enrollment.

HB 471, the creation of a Study Commission to study dual enrollment, would have gone a long way in setting state-wide standards to ensure our students would receive transferable college credits, and addressing the high cost of public colleges in New Hampshire and hopefully meeting New Hampshire’s future economic needs.

A dual enrollment student is one who is simultaneously enrolled in a high school curriculum while taking college level courses at a state institution. In some states the purpose of dual enrollment is provide high school students with access to demanding course work that is not available at their high school. For example more advanced course work along with various vocational and technical programs that high schools are not equip to teach; others to academically challenge students, others to provide college exposure to low-income students.

The lobbyists for the University and Community College Systems signed off on the blue sheet stating that they don’t support the establishment of a committee to study dual enrollment but they didn’t have the courage to speak or take questions. These were some of the same people who refused to support NH National Guard personnel attending the University and Community Colleges at a free or reduced rate based on space availability because they felt it would cost them revenue. They believed it was better for the University system to have an empty seat than have a member of the National Guard unable to pay the high tuition cost filling that empty seat.

An assistant superintendent who spoke in favor of HB 471 was taken aside and told that the University would not support anything that could possibility cost it revenue. In 22 of the 45 states that have a policy concerning dual enrollment the students and parents are required to pay all costs. I would expect New Hampshire to be the 23rd if a policy for dual enrollment was developed.

According to the 2013 Kiplinger 100 best-value in public college report UNH ranks 97th with the ninth highest list in state cost;  $27,386 The top 5 and the top 6 of 8 are college in the University of California System, such as University of California Berkley.

However, when it comes to actual in-state costs after need based aid UNH ranks first at $23,431. The colleges in the University of California System are reduced on average by more than 50 percent when need based aid in factored in.

When it comes to student debt, UNH ranks No. 1 at $34,191 almost doubles of other colleges in the top 100. Far more than the national average this only counts students that graduate in four years. Only 50 percent of all students graduate in 4 years and by year six only 67 percent have earned a degree from the UNH system. The University System makes a great deal of money using adjunct facility and graduate assistants to teach remedial English and math courses at full tuition.

According to CNN Money, only North and South Dakota have a higher percentage of students graduating in four years with debt; New Hampshire ranks third with 75 percent of all four year graduates debt-ridden. The four-year graduation figure is very important for two reasons students; failing to finish college often results in having higher debt with little to no way to pay it back, secondly a fifth year can easily add on another $10,000 to 25,000 in additional debt.

UNH ranks 46th in the nation educating in state students with about 55 percent while the national average is about 82 percent. When you take Granite State College out, the system’s in state students falls to about the 50 percent mark and sometimes even lower.

When compared to other states the UNH system was ranked 30.5 out of 50 when it came to Academic Quality Admissions Criteria.

One learns a great deal around the State House. One is repeatedly told that the University is too powerful, to don’t cross them. Or that the University System used New Hampshire taxpayers’ money to recruit out-of-state minorities because they said that New Hampshire was too white and didn’t have the diversity the University wanted.  The taxpayers of New Hampshire don’t expect their taxes to be used to help recruit out-of-state minorities and then possibly offer then student aid to help cover the cost of their tuition.

Before I am accused of being a bigot, I believe it is important to state that I am biracial, a minority. I support dual enrollment because it would increase diversity in the University System, but with priority to qualified New Hampshire high school graduates.  In the 2011 Nebraska study of Dual Enrollment it show there were 5,812 students who completed at least one dual enrollment course the previous school year of those students 31 percent were low-income and 26% were minorities.

To me the UNH system is more worried about themselves, not the students of New Hampshire. They are being short sighted because if parents are willing to pay for their children to take part in dual enrollment courses that would provide the UNH system with additional monies for seats that would have gone empty. But I think the biggest fear that the UNH system has is that with a dual enrollment policy more parents would see the value of partnering with community colleges and even earning AA degrees saving them thousands of dollars on room and board and other expenses.

In their short-sightedness the University and the Community College systems stand to lose future in-state students as colleges such as Southern New Hampshire University have partnered with Manchester and SAU 16 offering dual enrollment courses at a 90 percent discount or $100 per course. There are out-of-state colleges that are offering dual enrollment to New Hampshire students.

“Our partnership with SNHU and dual enrollment program has provided many of our students with a jump start on their future. The program challenges the students to perform at high academic levels; they earn graduation and college credits and save tuition money for the future. It’s a win-win and a no-brainer!” John Rist, Principal Center High School, Manchester, NH.

If it such a win-win and a no-brainer why in the world would the University and Community Colleges riskslosing future students? Because they are worrying about losing revenue. Keene State College has about 300 empty seats that is a lot of lost revenue.

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