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Jan 19, 2013 02:42 AM EST

USNH Requests the Government to Restore Its Funding To $100 Million

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The University System of New Hampshire is urging the government to restore its funding to $100 million a year in the next biennial budget. In return, four colleges would freeze their in-state tuition for two years.

In 2011, the state allocated only 50 percent of its overall budget to the university system. As a result, $51 million resulted only in 5.6 percent of the system's total revenue in fiscal 2012.

"Cutting state support for public education in half while lowering the tobacco tax two years ago was short sighted. We must begin to reverse course. In exchange, the university system, working with us, needs to increase the number of New Hampshire students admitted to our state colleges and universities and freeze in-state tuition," Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, said, Concord Monitor reports.

Hassan will submit her budget proposals for the next two fiscal years beginning July 1 to the Legislature by Feb. 15.

Edward MacKay, chancellor of the university system, said that reduction in staffing and employee benefits kept tuition from going even higher. MacKay said that the state provides little public money ($63) to four-year colleges and universities, when compared to New England average of $188 per student and the national average of $233.

The Chancellor further said that New Hampshire's per-student net state subsidy is also declining as the time progresses. In 2000, the subsidy was $4,335. But, it dropped steeply to $3,256 in 2011 to $622 in 2012 and $575 in fiscal 2013.

 "We talk about a fiscal cliff, and I think there's no better depiction of a fiscal cliff than what we experienced in the current biennium," MacKay said.

The Community College System of New Hampshire has requested a 33 percent increase in its budget to $42.5 million a year, which will prompt the college management to reduce tuition by 5 percent. The college lost around a fifth of its state funding in the last budget.

In-state tuition for University of New Hampshire has risen by approximately 25 percent over the past two years, to $14,000 per year.

University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston said that the relationship between public universities and public officials has turned sour due to rapidly rising tuition costs and increasingly tight state budgets.

"Those who were once partners in a great common enterprise soon became finger-pointing adversaries," Huddleston said. "Colleges were accused of bloat, inefficiency and unresponsiveness.

Huddleston said that the partnership must improve for them to survive in this tough economy or else they will perish.

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