DURHAM, N.H. -- The presidents and chancellor of New Hampshire’s public four-year colleges and universities today thanked Gov. Maggie Hassan for her biennial budget proposal, in which she recommends increasing funding on behalf of in-state students to $75 million in FY14 and $90 million in FY15.
“We are grateful to Governor Hassan for her leadership in re-establishing public higher education as a priority for the future of New Hampshire,” said Todd Leach, president of Granite State College, on behalf of the presidents of the four, four-year public colleges and universities. “Our students and their families deserve this investment, and all New Hampshire citizens will benefit. We look forward to working with the governor and the legislature to restore the budget fully as soon as fiscally possible.”
In addition to his role at Granite State, Leach will serve as interim chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire when Chancellor Ed MacKay retires March 1.
The presidents of Granite State College, the University of New Hampshire, Plymouth State University and Keene State College have committed to using the funds proposed by the governor to freeze in-state tuitions for the two years of the biennium, as well as to increase substantially need-based and merit aid for students from New Hampshire.
State funding for in-state students at public four-year colleges and universities was $100 million until 2011, when it was cut sharply to $51 million (currently $55 million), or roughly 6 percent of the operating budgets of the four institutions. In real terms over the past decade, the state’s subsidy to each four-year public college and university student in the state had fallen by $5,000 to less than $600 per year.
“We have heard a lot from alumni, parents and friends of our colleges and universities who understand the importance of maintaining a strong system of public higher education and who want it to remain affordable,” said USNH Board Chair Richard Galway. “We also know from our conversations with businesses that they depend on us to prepare graduates who are ready for the modern workforce. We are pleased that the governor has taken a leadership position on these issues, and we look forward to working with the legislature to develop a bipartisan approach to building and sustaining our investment in the future of the state.”
A Granite State poll fielded in August showed that 71 percent of New Hampshire residents favored restoring the state’s appropriation to public higher education, particularly if doing so could yield a freeze in in-state tuition during the biennium.