Amid Free College Proposals, a Guarantee from New Hampshire

By Lou D’Allesandro

Regardless of where you come from, the ability to access and receive a high-quality education is the key to success. The dream of an accessible education will now become a reality for many New Hampshire youngsters, thanks to a new University of New Hampshire (UNH) initiative called the Granite Guarantee Program.

The UNH Granite Guarantee will begin with the incoming freshman class in fall 2017. An estimated 400 New Hampshire students will benefit from the program, saving a combined $5.9 million in tuition costs at the UNH campuses in both Durham and Manchester. Freshmen who are awarded the Granite Guarantee aid will be eligible to receive it for four years, provided they remain eligible for at least $1 in federal Pell Grant aid.

Last year, 21% of New Hampshire students at UNH were Pell Grant recipients, and we know that the financial need of families in our state sending their kids off to college is real. As the cost of our public colleges and universities continues to rise, this is a huge opportunity for New Hampshire’s own to secure a world-class education.

The intention is for the program to grow with each new class, so the group of freshmen entering in 2018 will be eligible, then the group in 2019, and so on. By the time the 2020 cohort begins their studies, there will be Pell-eligible New Hampshire students at each grade level receiving support from the Granite Guarantee. We estimate that could amount to as many as 1,600 New Hampshire students—a little more than 10% of UNH’s total enrollment.

The Granite Guarantee is totally supported by private fundraising and was made possible by UNH’s 150th campaign.

UNH has a lot to be proud of lately. Its nationally competitive women’s and men’s basketball teams have helped bring more visibility, funding and vibrant campus life to the university. Its engineering and technology programs are key elements in supporting the high-tech industry in New Hampshire. For example, a strategic partner like Lonza Biologics in Portsmouth, N.H. employs a workforce of approximately 30% UNH graduates, uses university instruments for ongoing testing, and partners with faculty and students on internships, senior projects and research. Additionally, through the New Hampshire Innovation Research Center, UNH is currently providing research expertise to Turbocam International in Barrington, N.H. and HALO Maritime Defense Systems in Newton, N.H.

The university is increasing its profile in other ways, too. A recent study by the national journal published by the Ecological Society of America, ranked UNH’s Ecology program second in the country out of 316 higher ed institutions in terms of research and scholarship opportunities—a clear indicator that our state’s university is a leader in this significant and growing field.

While free tuition proposals have garnered a lot of attention nationally, New Hampshire’s decisions are independent of those made in other states. We should all commend UNH’s leadership for recognizing that cost is often unfortunately a barrier for students seeking a college degree, and for finding ways to balance their budget while reducing costs to students and families in an increasingly competitive world. Indeed with the Granite Guarantee, UNH is the only non-Ivy higher education institution in New Hampshire offering this kind of long-term, guaranteed financial support to low-income students. The Granite Guarantee will offer more confirmation that our land grant, sea grant and space grant university is a place to go and change your life.

Lou D’Allesandro is a New Hampshire state senator and former chair of NEBHE.


Editor’s note …

Readers may also be interested in these additional resources on “free college” …

  • Obama proposal to make community college tuition free


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