The Surest Way to Limit the Cost of College is to Graduate on Time
Since my last post on the potential for a student debt crisis I’ve been asked several questions about what is happening in New Hampshire. I can’t adequately answer those questions here but since it is being reported that the University System of NH is holding-off setting tuition rates until the next state budget is clearer, I thought I would take a quick look at one college cost trend in NH along with what I think is one important metric when considering the cost of college.
It is not an epiphany that the cost of college is rising faster than the cost of most goods and services and it is generally recognized that the cost of college at NH’s public higher education institutions is higher than the national average. What is surprising is that over the past decade, costs at NH’s public 4 year institutions have risen less than the national average. I am not saying that they haven’t risen well above a comfortable rate, just that given the constraints of state support, tuition and fees, as well as total costs for in-state undergraduate students at NH’s public colleges have risen more slowly than the national average.
It sure didn’t feel that way over the past several years as I have had the pleasure of sending two children to different public universities identified as having among the highest costs of any public universities in the nation (UVM and UNH). But a lower annual cost doesn’t mean as much if it takes more years for a student to graduate. Fortunately a higher percentage of students graduate within 150% of “normal time” at NH’s (and VT’s) public 4 year colleges than they do nationally (see chart below). So far my students are 2 for 2 in graduating on-time and the next one is in the batters box in North Carolina, what are the chance that we can bat 1000?