By Alex Lippa
---- — Beatrice Tavernini of Windham has sent four kids through college. Now as her youngest, Jennifer, is set to finish her last two years at the University of New Hampshire, she will see something she’s never seen before: frozen tuition rates.
The University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees voted unanimously yesterday to freeze tuition for the next two years. It is the first tuition freeze the state system has had in 25 years.
“It’s about time,” Tavernini said. “Prices have gone up every year. It’s been ridiculous.”
Gov. Maggie Hassan was instrumental in the move. State community colleges announced a tuition freeze a day earlier.
In fact, Hassan made the motion for the freeze at a trustees’ meeting in Keene yesterday.
“With the budget process now complete and funds for the university system substantially restored,” Hassan said, “freezing tuition for over 22,000 New Hampshire students will make a real difference for families and help us build a stronger workforce that will attract innovative companies.”
The freezes will affect UNH, Plymouth State University, Keene State College and Granite State College.
Hassan said the decision wouldn’t have been possible if the Legislature didn’t restore funding to state universities. Some $69 million will be restored this fiscal year, $84 million next year.
Trustee Chairman Richard Galway thanked Hassan for her support of the freeze.
“We are grateful for Gov. Maggie Hassan’s early and strong support for public higher education in the Granite State,” Galway said. “Her commitment and leadership in restoring a majority of the previous Legislature’s budget cuts to public higher education never wavered.
Tyler Gullbrand, a philosophy and chemistry major from Salem, said it was welcome news.
“The fact that the state made so many funding cuts, made tuition hikes a looming fear,” said Gullbrand, who will be starting his junior year at UNH in the fall.
He said he and others at his school have struggled with the high tuition rates.
“I don’t come from the highest of income backgrounds,” he said. “It’s been tough on me and on my parents. The prospect of having enormous student loan debts is terrifying.”
Tara Payne, vice president of college planning at New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation, said she was glad to see the effort made to make college more affordable.
“I’m just thrilled to see it,” she said. “We are starting to head in the right direction.”
Payne said the announcement of the tuition freezes fit in perfectly with the announcement of the new chancellor for the university system. Todd Leach, president of Granite State College, was approved as chancellor by the board yesterday. Leach had been the interim chancellor since Ed MacKay retired in March.
“Not only are you seeing the commitment made by the system to make college more affordable,” Payne said. “But now they are bringing in a chancellor who has made his school the most affordable campus in the state.”