New Hampshire educators say the 5 percent cut in tuition announced last week by the state Community College System could extend and expand a trend of more students choosing to start college in two-year programs.
“We’re seeing a major increase,” Pelham High School dean of guidance Kathryn Sheridan said. “Last year, 20 percent of our graduates, and this year 24 percent, chose a two-year college.”
In seven years, the percentage of Pelham students selecting community college is up from the mid-teens.
“It was closer to 15 percent,” Sheridan said. “We’ve seen it incrementally go up.”
Londonderry High guidance counselor Bill Mitchell said the percentage of students choosing community colleges has increased from the low 20s to 25 percent.
“Our numbers have gone up the past couple of years,” he said. “There’s definitely a trend.”
Salem High guidance director Heidi Greenlaw said the percentage of graduates going to a two-year program is up from 18 percent in 2011 to about 25 percent the last two years.
“We’ve seen an increase in students attending a two-year college,” Greenlaw said.
The numbers are up at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston, too, from 28 percent to 34 percent over the past three years.
“A number of students are looking long and hard at the community college option for financial or other reasons,” principal Brian Stack said.
Cost matters to students and their parents.
“I really do believe a lot of it has to do with the economy,” Sheridan said.
It mattered to Pelham senior Tom Gleason, bound for Lakes Region Community College to study firefighting science.
“Price is definitely a big factor,” Gleason said.
He had just heard about the tuition reduction, which will cut the per credit cost from $210 to $200.
An in-state student carrying a full 12 credits per semester will pay about $4,800, a savings of $240.