The economic impact of our community colleges

The system contributes over $1 billion annually to the state’s economy

Adding annually to the pool of highly educated and skilled labor is among the most important benefits higher education institutions provide. New Hampshire’s ability to retain and attract businesses that will keep the state’s economy strong is dependent upon the state’s capacity to generate a skilled workforce. The most significant role of the Community College System of New Hampshire is in preparing state residents with the education and training they need to be successful in the economy.

New Hampshire’s community colleges provide education and training to more than 27,000 students annually. Ninety-three percent are New Hampshire residents. Sixty percent are of “traditional” college age (18 to 24 years old), while 40 percent are adults 25 and older. 

CCSNH directly and indirectly impacts the state’s economy through its contribution to developing a skilled workforce aligned with New Hampshire’s employer needs, and also through employment and expenditures, producing an overall economic impact of over $1 billion annually. 

The most important component of CCSNH’s $1 billion economic impact is the provision of affordable and accessible education that provides pathways to well-paying employment for residents across the state. New Hampshire residents with an associate degree earn on average 27 percent more annually than residents with a high school terminal degree.

A skilled workforce pipeline is also very important to states such as New Hampshire, which compete on the basis of a skilled workforce for high-paying employers. CCSNH’s contribution to a more skilled population results in a $964 million economic impact annually.

In addition to the economic impact that results from strengthening New Hampshire’s skilled workforce, CCSNH adds $77 million annually to the economy from employment and employee expenditures and institutional expenditures on goods and services in New Hampshire.

And there are the non-quantifiable impacts that include contributions by community college students, faculty and staff through community service, internships, service learning, the provision of professional expertise and other activities that support community organizations and businesses in the state.

CCSNH is preparing New Hampshire’s future workforce while working to keep education affordable. Continued state support to the community colleges to address affordability is critical.

In the last budget cycle, state funding was directed to lowering tuition and increasing affordability of educational pathways. This has resulted in increased enrollment of students at our colleges in programs aligned with employer needs. The result is an increased pool of skilled workers who possess critical thinking skills and are adaptable to new and evolving technologies in high-demand fields.

In addition to lowering tuition in 2014, the community colleges froze tuition in four of the last nine years. And with educational partners including the University System of New Hampshire, CCSNH is strengthening access to transfer pathways so students can start at a community college and transfer seamlessly and cost-effectively to complete a four-year degree, including through new dual-admission programs with UNH.

CCSNH’s work to strengthen New Hampshire’s workforce and its impact of $1 billion annually to the state’s economy are critical elements in New Hampshire’s economic future and quality of life.

Ross Gittell is an economist and chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire. Jeremy Hitchcock is CEO and a co-founder of Dyn Inc. and a CCSNH board member. For more detailed analysis, see the complete White Paper entitled “The Community College System of New Hampshire-An Economic Impact Study” at

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