Requires the New Hampshire university and community college systems to waive the application for current members and alumni of civilian national service organizations, such as the Peace Corps.
Public colleges and universities are higher education institutions founded by state governments and partially funded through state tax dollars.
New Hampshire’s public colleges and universities include the University System of New Hampshire, the Community College System of New Hampshire, Keene State College, Plymouth State University, and Granite State College. They are funded through a combination of state money, federal funds, tuition and fees, and private donations.
The New Hampshire Legislature does not have control over the entire university system budget or what they charge for tuition. Instead, the Legislature decides how much state funding to give public higher education every two years as part of the state budget. Leaders at New Hampshire’s public colleges and universities then decide how to spend that money and set tuition rates.
Current higher education funding in NH
New Hampshire funding for public colleges and universities is low compared to other states.
On average, public colleges and universities in the United States get about one-fifth of their funding from state government. In New Hampshire, state funding only covers about one-tenth of the budget for the University System of New Hampshire.
According to data from the College Board, in 2018 New Hampshire had the lowest state funding for higher education in the United States, at $2,960 per student (based on total enrollment).
Tuition and fees cover most of the difference. In New Hampshire, tuition and fees make up over one-third of the revenue for public colleges and universities, compared to a national average of 21%.
It is not surprising, then, that New Hampshire public colleges and universities had the second-highest highest average in-state tuition in the United States, at $16,460 in 2018, with only Vermont higher at 16,610. (The national average was $10,230.)
Historical highs and lows for university funding
Funding for public colleges and universities was much higher before the recession. In 2001 New Hampshire funding per student reached a high of $5,515.
However, due to falling tax revenues, the 2011 New Hampshire Legislature cut college and university funding by roughly half, down to less than $2,000 per student. The University of New Hampshire raised tuition at its four-year colleges by about 10% to cover the loss.
The Legislature restored about half of that higher education funding in the next state budget, in 2013. New Hampshire’s two-year community colleges and four-year institutions were both able to freeze tuition for the next two years.
In 2015 the Legislature once again increased college and university funding, but this time only by about 5%. The community college was able to actually cut tuition at that point, but the University of New Hampshire broke the freeze and raised tuition at four-year colleges again.
In 2017, the Legislature level-funded the University System of New Hampshire but gave the Community College System more funding. In return, New Hampshire’s community colleges have promised another tuition freeze. Tuition is expected to continue to increase at New Hampshire’s four-year public colleges and universities.
Alternatives to increasing state funding
Most legislators agree that New Hampshire residents benefit from lower tuition at public colleges and universities. Raising state funding isn’t the only way to keep college affordable for Granite Staters, however.
There are also various state and federal student loan programs that help students afford college – at least in the short-term. However, some critics argue the wide availability of student loans just enables colleges to raise tuition.
The Legislature has expressed interest in how the university system could spend more efficiently. For example, public colleges and universities could offer more courses online, limit spending on athletics, or use more adjunct faculty instead of tenured professors.
Alternative funding formulas
One way the Legislature could push for public colleges and universities to spend more efficiently would be to link funding to student enrollment or educational outcomes, instead of granting an arbitrary lump sum.
Some states have assed laws to cap how much universities may raise tuition, such as limiting increases to a certain percentage each year, or tying them to changes in the state’s median income. Others legislate how much universities can spend on certain programs. These caps can keep tuition low, but might put more pressure on legislators to use state funds to make up any shortfall in a school’s budget.
In Maryland, lawmakers have addressed this challenge by creating a stabilization fund—a special ‘rainy day’ fund for the public university system which can be tapped when revenue drops or costs go up to take the pressure off tuition rates.
Funding financial aid
Some states allocate additional spending to financial aid, rather than general institutional aid. The goal of this policy is to see that the extra money is targeted toward helping poorer students who might not otherwise be able to afford college. However, critics express concern that the “sticker shock” of overall tuition rates might intimidate some out of applying at all.
Colorado has experimented with a sort of voucher program, which gives every college student a stipend for credits at either public or private colleges. Ideally this program forces public colleges to compete with private colleges to offer the best value for students.
PROS & CONS
“New Hampshire should increase funding for higher education.”
- According to almost any measure, New Hampshire provides the lowest support for public higher education of any state in the U.S. For example, a study from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association found that New Hampshire allocates just 1.9% of tax revenues to higher education, compared to a national average of 5.8%.
- As long as New Hampshire’s support for public colleges remains low, tuition is most likely going to remain high. This doesn’t just hurt students and their families in the short-term. In the long-term, it burdens students with debt that limits their job prospects (for example, most health care students can’t afford to work in low-income or rural areas, where salaries are lower, and still make loan payments). It also makes them less likely to make large investments, such as purchasing a home. This has a negative effect on the entire economy.
- A higher percentage of students in New Hampshire leave the state to go to college than anywhere else in the US, with the sole exception of Vermont. This makes it more likely those young people will permanently settle out-of-state, exacerbating the challenge of New Hampshire’s increasingly aging demographics. Lowering in-state tuition could help entice students to stay here instead of moving away.
- The university system demonstrated its commitment to cost-cutting in 2013, when it froze tuition despite not getting all the funding it requested from the Legislature. If the state increases university funding in the future, legislators can be confident students will see the difference in their tuition rates.
- According to a nation-wide 2009 study from Research in Higher Education, every $1 of taxpayer money spent on higher education has a return of $2.35 in future tax revenue and savings on social services. (Though New Hampshire lacks a sales or income tax, the study also looked at the property taxes residents eventually pay, and these make up a significant portion of the Granite State’s revenue.)
“New Hampshire should not increase funding for higher education.”
- New Hampshire has actually been lowering tuition to its community colleges over recent years, making it one of only a handful of states in the U.S. to do so.
- The University of New Hampshire has not demonstrated it spends state money wisely. For example, in 2016 the university spent $17,570 on a single light-up table at the dining hall.
- From 2005 to 2015 the amount UNH Durham spent per student (including graduate students) increased by 33%. That’s faster than the rate of inflation over the same time period, about 21%. Did the university really increase the value of education by that much over just ten years? This spending growth suggests there is room for UNH to cut its budget.
- The higher tuition at the University of New Hampshire is matched with a high quality education. According to the U.S. News and World Report rankings of universities, UNH Durham tied for 46th out of 132 public colleges and universities in the United States. Tuition rates don’t need to decrease if students are receiving a higher-quality education.
- Rather than increase funding for the university system overall, the state should focus on financial aid for students pursuing degrees in fields that have a shortage of qualified workers, such as the health care field. To learn more about efforts to educate a new generation of workers in critical fields, visit our Jobs, Trades, and Skills Training issue page.
Requires the Banking Department to designate a student loan ombudsman and establishes a student loan servicer license.
Establishes a committee to study student loan forgiveness on the basis of volunteer work, including service in the legislature.
Establishes the Targeted Workforce Development Program and Workforce Development Fund to provide student debt relief to individuals employed in industries chosen by the Division of Economic Development.
Establishes a tuition waiver for the state university system and community college system for the children of totally and permanently disabled New Hampshire veterans.
At the time of this bill's submission, a member of the New Hampshire national guard is eligible for a tuition waiver for a course in the community college or university system if there is space available in that course. This bill removes the reference to available space. The Senate amended the bill to also authorize tuition waivers for children in state foster care or guardianship for part time enrollment in programs in the state university or community college system.
Prohibits the state community college and university systems from discriminating "based on an applicant's or employee's law enforcement, military, or veteran status."
Expands the existing Regenerative Manufacturing Workforce Development Program - which provides student loan repayment for graduates that work in regenerative manufacturing - to offer student debt relief for workers in other "qualified industries", including health care and state government.
Sets aside $400,000 over two years for the community college system to continue the math learning communities program in partnership with New Hampshire high schools. The House amended the bill by eliminating the funding portion of the bill.
Offers in-state tuition at any institution in the University System of New Hampshire for any person who is registered to vote in this state.
If an institution of higher learning ceases instruction, this bill requires the Higher Education Commission to retain a copy of student transcripts for 40 years. At the time of this bill's submission, the law did not specify how long the commission must keep the transcripts. The Senate amended the bill to keep the transcripts for 50 years.
Establishes a commission to study career pathways from full-time service year programs to postsecondary education and employment opportunities.
Establishes a committee to study the will of Benjamin Thompson and determine whether the reorganization of the Thompson School of Applied Science by the University of New Hampshire is in compliance with the terms of the will.
Creates a scholarship program for students to pay for exams that translate into college credit, and sets aside $200,000 over two years for the scholarships.
Establishes a Student Career and College Investment Program Fund to fund accounts for students who complete a financial literacy program in second grade or later, beginning with a $250 transfer to each student. As introduced, the bill set aside $5 million over two years for the fund. The House amended the bill, removing that $5 million and instead adding $100 to a fee for mutual funds.
Reestablishes the CART (Computer Aided, Realtime Translation of spoken English) provider and sign language interpreter net tuition repayment fund.
Allows a retired faculty member of the community college system to begin part-time employment a college prior to 28 days after retirement without affecting his or her retirement allowance.
Sends $250,000 to the Innovation Research Center in the university system.
Removes private colleges and universities from eligibility under the governor's scholarship program, and clarifies the scholarships are only available to first-year students. The Senate amended the bill so that scholarships would still be allowed for private colleges and universities. The Senate amendment also adds other eligibility rules, for example to exclude students adjudicated delinquent.
Allows the University System Board of Trustees to establish "criteria" rather than "rules" for classifying students for in-state and out-of-state tuition. This would exempt the criteria from the formal rule-making process with legislative oversight.
Authorizes Signum University to grant degrees in this state.
Establishes a committee to study options for lowering student loan debt.
Establishes the New Hampshire college graduate retention incentive partnership (NH GRIP) which provides $1,000 annually for four years to an in-state college graduate who is hired by a participating in-state employer.
Expands career and technical education (CTE), in particular by permitting students in grade 10 to enroll in CTE courses designated by the Community Colleges System of New Hampshire. This bill also expands CTE reporting requirements.
Keeps members of the state House of Representatives and Senate on the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees.
Directs the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to increase Medicaid provider rates by 5% in 2020 and 7% in 2021. Additionally, the bill clarifies the definitions and coverage of telemedicine under Medicaid. This bill also requires health care professionals to complete a survey or an opt out form collecting data on the primary care workforce. This bill then sets aside about $21 million for various programs and scholarships to improve care and access to care in rural and underserved areas of this state, and to enhance the health workforce in New Hampshire. The bill also requires the Department of Safety to accept and process background check applications online.
Renames New Hampshire's community colleges.
Modifies the law governing dual and concurrent enrollment, which allows high school students to earn college credit for certain courses. For example, this bill requires Department of Education, the community college system, and the university system to develop a model dual and concurrent enrollment agreement for schools.
Establishes a committee to study the creation of an economic improvement fund to provide researchers at New Hampshire's public universities with additional funds.
Adds a representative from the community college system to the Apprenticeship Advisory Council.
Expands the categories that the university and community college systems cannot use to discriminate or give preferential treatment, to include "age, color, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, familial status, or actual or perceived status as a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault."
Allows any person who is not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law to carry a pistol or revolver on the exterior grounds of any state university or community college property.
Prohibiting the university system from acting against employees for membership in a group or organization, including a labor union.
Prohibits the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) and the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) from distributing any state-funded financial assistance to any student who has failed to demonstrate legal residency in New Hampshire. This bill also limits adult education programs to legal residents. The Senate amended the bill to only limit adult education programs to legal residents.
Makes the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President permanent voting members of the university system board of trustees. A conference committee of legislators amended the bill to extend their membership to just June 30, 2019.
Requires the trustees of the university system to submit a report detailing the operating budget for each institution in the university system for the next fiscal year.
Establishes the John and Molly Stark student debt reduction program, which would provide grants to New Hampshire residents who attend UNH and agree to work in New Hampshire for four years after graduation. The bill appropriates $1.2 million over the next two fiscal years for the program.
Establishes the John and Molly Stark workforce opportunity program, a scholarship program for qualifying New Hampshire students enrolled in the Community College System of New Hampshire. The bill appropriates $1 million over the next two fiscal years for the program.
Establishes a college scholarship program for UNH students pursuing careers in social services, such as nursing. Applicants would have to agree to work in New Hampshire for at least four years after graduating. The bill appropriates $1 to start the program.
Establishes a college scholarship program for UNH students pursuing careers in health care. Applicants would have to agree to work in New Hampshire for at least five years after graduating. The bill appropriates $1 to start the program.
Amends the Children's Savings Account Program, creating a student and career and college investment program. State law requires a pilot program in Manchester and Coos county that gives each kindergarten student a $50 savings account. This bill expands the program to any student who completes a financial literacy program in the second grade or later, and increases the initial deposit to $250.
Establishes a program for students in grades 11 and 12 interested in taking science, technology, engineering, or math courses, previously approved by the University System of New Hampshire or Community College System of New Hampshire, for college credit at a state-funded rate of $250 per course.
Establishes a committee to study the feasibility of transferring authority over the University System of New Hampshire's budget to the Legislature. The House amended the bill to instead study how the university and community college systems spend taxpayer money, and how to increase accountability.
Urges legislators to support bills to ensure that students from New Hampshire have access to debt-free higher education at public colleges and universities.
Establishes the New Hampshire college graduate retention incentive partnership (NH GRIP) which provides $1,000 annually for four years to an in-state college graduate who is hired by a participating in-state employer.
Establishes a skilled technology worker recruiting trust fund in the Treasury Department for the purpose of providing student debt relief. This bill appropriates $4 million over the next two fiscal years for the program.
Requires the Adjutant General's Department to include at least $25,000 for the New Hampshire National Guard Scholarship (NHNGS) Fund in the Department's budget request each year. The House amended the bill to instead appropriate $25,000 each year, regardless of a request.
Allows a town to establish a scholarship fund.
Requires the University System of New Hampshire and the Community College System of New Hampshire to provide detailed budgets upon legislative or executive request.
Increases reporting requirements for Dartmouth's fund to assist indigent students.
Prohibits a state university, institution, or entity funded by the state of New Hampshire from regulating the sale or possession of firearms.
Establishes "academic freedom and whistleblower protection" for faculty members of UNH.
Establishing a committee to study changes in the Community College System, particularly since the system became a self-governing entity.
Establishes the John and Molly Stark scholarship program, funded by gifts and grants, to pay half of tuition for top sudents attending state colleges and universities.
Proclaims that outdoor areas of the campuses of UNH and community colleges are public forums, and that universities and colleges receiving state funds must allow "spontaneous and contemporaneous assembly."
Creates a UNH scholarship, funded by gifts and grants, for students that aim to become math teachers.
Urges support of the 65/25 initiative, which aims for 65% of the state's working age population to hold a postsecondary credential or degree by the year 2025.
Allows New Hampshire community colleges to offer four-year degrees.
Establishes special university license plates to fund college scholarships.
Establishes a fund for the University System of New Hampshire to give scholarships to students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) who agree to work in New Hampshire for at least five years after graduating
Should NH increase funding for higher education?
This year, legislators will debate creating a student loan bill of rights. They'll also consider whether to study creating a student loan forgiveness program. Have an opinion about student debt? Contact your elected officials and share your thoughts.
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