In just 72 hours, a grassroots campaign to freeze in-state tuition at UNH for two more years and boost student scholarships has taken off across the Granite State, gaining unprecedented support from students, parents, alumni and business leaders.
Since the renewed UNH Works campaign was launched Monday, more than 1,000 citizens who visited the website answered its appeal to sign up as UNH Advocates – voters who are standing with UNH to freeze tuition, increase student scholarships and restore public support in the state budget. The sign-ups represent an increase of more than 50 percent in UNH Advocates, a statewide network that began two years ago through the creation of UNH Works.
“This is an overwhelming response, and it shows how important it is to voters that UNH remains affordable and accessible to Granite Staters,” says Mica Stark, assistant vice president for public affairs at UNH. “The groundswell of enthusiasm for our renewed UNH Works campaign is inspiring, and it will help us send a strong, positive message when the Legislature convenes.”
Stark credits UNH Advocates with building support for UNH and the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) two years ago to partially restore a deep cut in state funding made in the midst of the recession. Because of the budget agreement reached by the Governor and Legislature in 2013, USNH trustees were able to freeze in-state tuition for the past two years.
For the next two-year state budget cycle, USNH trustees are asking the Legislature to fully restore state support to 2009 levels, or $100 million in fiscal year 2016 and $105 million in fiscal year 2017. If the money is restored, trustees have already agreed to extend the in-state tuition freeze two more years, and increase scholarship support for students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and for workforce partnerships with the New Hampshire Community College System.
“We are grateful for the support of the state Legislature that allowed us to implement the first two-year, in-state tuition freeze and we are eager to continue that partnership for a total of four years,” says Pamela Diamantis, chair of the USNH Board of Trustees, which oversees the budgets at UNH, Plymouth State University, Keene State College and Granite State College. “For the first time in recent history, a New Hampshire family sending their son or daughter to a USNH campus will have no increase in tuition for their entire four year college experience.”
The redesigned UNH Works website features bold, simple graphics and a short video that detail UNH’s contributions to the state’s economy ($1.4 billion a year) and information about state funding (UNH is last in the nation in per capita support for higher education).
“There is incredible strength in numbers,” says UNH President Mark W. Huddleston. “By helping grow our grassroots community, New Hampshire citizens who become UNH Advocates will be sending a powerful message that keeping higher education affordable for our students is a priority that benefits all of New Hampshire.”