Community College System of NH Budget Request Would Lower In-State Tuition

Community College System of NH Budget Request Would Lower In-State Tuition

November 21, 2016

Community College System of NH Budget Request Would Lower In-State Tuition

Concord, NH - Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) leadership testified during the Governor’s budget hearings on November 21 that if their budget request can be fulfilled, in-state tuition will stay flat in year one of the biennium and drop in year two. Over the past five years, CCSNH has reduced its tuition, bucking national trends and increasing access and affordability for New Hampshire residents.

CCSNH Chancellor Ross Gittell testified before the committee and presented the system’s two-year budget proposal. “We take our mission to provide residents with affordable, accessible education and training, that aligns with the needs of NH’s businesses and communities, very seriously,” he said. “Our role working with NH employers to meet workforce needs is especially critical as NH faces demographic challenges of an aging population, the impending retirement of baby boomers in the workforce and a drop in the in-migration of well-educated adults into the Granite State,” he said.

The seven community colleges that comprise the system serve approximately 28,000 students, in every region of the state.  About 93% are New Hampshire residents. Each campus has many industry partnerships that provide education and training in important sectors of the economy including advanced manufacturing, information technology, healthcare and the skilled technical trades such as HVAC, automotive and electrical technology.  The community colleges also offer programs in other sectors important to the state’s economy including tourism and hospitality, business, public safety, and more to generate a skilled local workforce.

Chancellor Gittell reiterated the system’s leading role in the 65 by 25 initiative, which is to have 65 percent of NH working-age adults with a postsecondary credential by 2025 so the state can meet the projected needs of employers across the state. “A skilled workforce pipeline is absolutely critical in the ability of NH businesses to grow and locate in our state,” he said. The 65 by 25 goal has been embraced by the Business and Industry Association of NH, the Coalition for Business and Education, the NH High Tech Council, the NH Department of Education, and the University System of NH and was endorsed last year by the State Legislature.

The budget request for FY18 (beginning July 1, 2017) is $49.25 million and $52.5 million for FY19. The Legislature has appropriated $43.8 million for the current fiscal year, which represents 30% of the CCSNH’s total budget. Nationally, public support makes up roughly half of community colleges’ operating budgets.  Unlike in most other states, CCSNH relies on tuition revenue for the majority of its resources, and as a result has the second-highest tuition in the nation among community college systems, behind Vermont.

CCSNH leaders have not raised tuition since 2011, and reduced it by 5% in 2014 thanks to support in the state budget that provided for sufficient resources to make this cut. 

Chancellor Gittell noted that the system has worked hard to achieve operational efficiencies by sharing administrative systems, positions and IT infrastructure. Enrollment across the system peaked in 2011, and since then has trended down, resulting in less revenue. This same trend occurred nationwide as states emerged from recession. With less revenue, CCSNH took steps to bring its cost structure down.

The funding requested would also enable the community college to continue their work to improve NH student college completion rates and build more pathways from K-12 to college and on to skilled employment in the state. 

Despite NH’s low unemployment rate, NH employers consistently cite a skills gap in the population and job openings they cannot fill with appropriately prepared applicants.

CCSNH has also been addressing the affordability issue at the pre-college level by building its Running Start program, which enables students to take college courses through their high school at a significantly lower cost per credit. Just in the last year, 5,400 high school students took advantage of Running Start, earning more than 21,000 college credits. Those credits represent a savings of over $3m compared to the full credit cost of those courses at a community college.

“Holding the line on tuition for the last five years to maintain affordability and reduce student loan debt has been a high priority. Our Board leadership is strongly committed to affordability and the success of our students. We need to partner with the state in order to maintain the quality of our education and meet the state’s economic needs,” Chancellor Gittell said at the conclusion of his remarks.


The Community College System of NH consists of seven colleges, offering associate degree and certificate programs, professional training, transfer pathways to four-year degrees, and dual-credit partnerships with NH high schools. The System’s colleges are Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth and Rochester; Lakes Region Community College in Laconia; Manchester Community College; Nashua Community College; NHTI – Concord’s Community College; River Valley Community College in Claremont, Lebanon and Keene; and White Mountains Community College in Berlin, Littleton and North Conway.  The seven community colleges in the system are committed to working with businesses throughout the state to train and retain employees to develop a robust workforce across all sectors and embraces the "65 by 25 Initiative," which calls for 65% of NH citizens to have some form of postsecondary education by 2025 to meet future workforce demands.