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.
Many corporate executives in NH, including Gary Hirshberg, the Chairman of Stonyfield Farm have stated that a greater emphasis on university funding is preferable to a cut in corporate state taxes. These executives are concerned about recruiting the next generation of skilled workers, and in providing workforce development opportunities.