Tuition to rise 11 percent at community tech colleges

The New Hampshire Community Technical College System has announced an 11 percent increase announced in tuition for the 2004-05 academic year.

The cost of $148 per credit is $15 higher than the $133-per-credit cost in the previous year and reflects a national trend in community college tuition rates, officials said.

“While our trustees were very reluctant to raise tuition, they recognize the importance of maintaining the level of quality in the programs and services we offer, so our students will have every opportunity for professional success after they graduate,” said NHCTCS Commissioner William G. Simonton.

System officials attribute the rise to an increase in the state’s health insurance plan costs, coupled with operational cuts of close to $1 million in the 2005 fiscal year, carving over $4 million out of the system’s 2005 operating funds.

“Across the nation, reductions in state support are pushing community college tuitions to record levels, while enrollments are at record highs,” said Simonton. “Many states are turning away thousands of community college students for lack of space. Access is a key component of the community college mission, and while in New Hampshire most students are still able to attend, more of their costs may have to be covered by borrowing.”

Simonton said the increase approved by the board of trustees was originally higher, but that Governor Benson worked with the system to bring the number down.

“Our trustees were adamant, and the governor agreed, that anything we might do to make tuition lower for our students needed to be investigated,” said Simonton. “We plan to work with the governor and the Legislature on future budgets that will enable New Hampshire’s community technical college system to maintain the quality of its educational offerings without raising tuition to a point where it becomes prohibitive for students to seek a college education and career training in New Hampshire.”

The community technical colleges have increased enrollment by close to 40 percent in the last five years and increased staff by only 1.4 percent, according to Shannon Reid, NHCTCS communications director. State support has dropped to 35 percent of the system’s operating budget, down from 45 percent in 1999, Reid said.

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