The cost of attending college in the state just got even more expensive.
The state budget nearly halves funding to public higher education.
Governor John Lynch, who let the state budget become law without his signature Friday, criticized those cuts.
“I believe their the deepest cuts imposed by any state in the country on public higher education, public higher education helps drive our economy and what it means is a diminishing of the opportunity for our young people to go to college.
And I think that’s a real problem for our state going forward.”
In-state tuitions, also among the highest in the country, will go up again.
It has some college students wondering whether it’s worth the cost.
In 2009, nearly three quarters of students at the state’s public colleges and universities graduated with debt, and a lot of it.
The average: $29,675.
That’s almost ten thousand dollars higher than the national average.
Now, they’ll likely have more.
“It always makes me wonder if the whole thing is worth it or not”
That’s Spencer Jackson, a senior at Plymouth State University.
Tuition, room and fees will increase 10 percent for him this fall, something he pays for himself through student loans.
“one of the biggest things I’ve learned at college is how to live with absolutely no money, when I go up there I’m absolutely broke.”
Last February, The University System Board of Trustees had set tuition increases at about six percent, but had to adjust that after lawmakers cut funding to the system by nearly 50-percent.
At UNH, tuition will increase almost nine percent, at Keene State, almost ten.
Jackson says he was prepared for some increase, but the latest move is disappointing.
“It is disheartening and it’s sad, it’s college students who are going to be building a better future, and when they can’t really get ahead it’s foreboding at best.”
Plymouth State University Senior Elyse Sedgley says the hike may amount to less than one thousand dollars, but it can be a huge difference for some students.
“Everybody kind of jokes about college, you’re eating Ramen and you’re eating canned food, but every little cent matters, for the parents who are paying for it, for the students who are going there and sometimes for the teachers who are going to be getting a dramatic cut from this budget.”
“I think it’s remarkable that we’ve been able to keep the prices as low as we have”
That’s Ed McKay, Chancellor of University System of New Hampshire.
He says it’s been the most challenging year for the system given the lack of money coming from the state.
“Current state funding, that is before these reductions, was already 50th in the country that is lowest in the country based on a per capita basis, or based on personal income.”
McKay says the entire burden of state budget cuts has not fallen on the backs of students.
“We are laying off a significant number of individuals, eliminating a total of 175 positions, we have reduced compensation for non-unionized employees and are attempting through negotiations to reduce it through unionized employees.”
UNH will see the majority of those layoffs, between 100 and 150.
Dale Barkey, a UNH professor and the faculty’s chief negotiator, says cutting teachers is the wrong way to handle reduced state funding.
“Cuts in faculty positions means that the courses become unavailable. Students can’t get the classes that they want, they can’t get in to see the professor they like to see, the professors they want to work with, so that’s a problem.”
Barkey says state budget cuts have reached a point where the university system is virtually a private institution, raising the majority of its money from tuition and fees.
If there is one positive result of the state funding loss, it’s that the University system has increased financial aid for students by 16 percent.
Over the past ten years, they’ve increased aid more than five times.
But for the majority of students who don’t qualify for aid, they become just another student, with a lot of debt.