Funding for our public school system is in jeopardy with the advent of “Freedom Vouchers”, which provide as much as just under $5,000 per student for homeschooling, private or religious schooling. These funds are being siphoned away from our public schools on the backs of New Hampshire taxpayers.
The budget for the Freedom Accounts are already wildly over budget, with stiff resistance to put any reigns on the program. And many school advocates do not believe that there is adequate oversight of the education of students who participate in the program.
New Hampshire 4-year colleges have the highest tuition in the nation. Simultaneously, our higher education system has the lowest state support per capita in the country.
The repercussions of this are clear. Close to 60% of high school graduates will leave the state to pursue their education, and many of them will not come back. In fact, our state exports the highest number of college-age students in the country. This intensifies the labor shortage in the Granite State, with many sectors in the economy having difficulty filling skilled positions. These include jobs in healthcare, manufacturing, and technology.
The high price of tuition is due in large measure to the low levels of state funding for our university system. New Hampshire’s state funding is less than half of the national average; the amount of money the state has allocated to the university system is down 20% over the last ten years.
Universities have always played a key role in developing a talented workforce as well as the next generation of entrepreneurs. If our state legislature fails to adequately fund our universities, the impact on our economy will reverberate for years to come.