Debt fears boost transfers

Afraid of college debts, more New Hampshire students are starting the path to a bachelor’s degree at a community college, reports New Hampshire Public Radio. Community college transfers to state universities increased by 57 percent in the last six years.

Twenty-six thousand dollars. That’s about how much students can save by going to a community college for two years, then transferring to a four-year school. Not including financial aid or room and meals.

. . . Rebekah Lamirande has plans to get a Masters degree in nursing.  She says growing up, she was sure she’d go to a four year college.  Her father has a PhD, and her mother has two degrees, too.  Of course, then the recession happened. LaMirande was in High School.

“It just wasn’t in the cards, moneywise,” she says.  “I didn’t want to graduate with over $100,000 worth of student loans.”

Transfer was simplified in 2009: New Hampshire community college students know if they earn a certain grade point average they’re guaranteed admission to a state university.

Ashley Desrochers is a senior at UNH. She says the easy transfer process was important to her in choosing not to go to UNH for all four years, but to start at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord.

Desrochers says although her peers at NHTI were not as ambitious or driven as her classmates at UNH, the academics were just as good. In fact, class sizes were much smaller. “I would never think a community college education is less than a university education,” she says.

The number of 18-year-olds is on the decline in New England. “By aligning curricula, streamlining the application process, and recruiting on-site, New Hampshire is trying to keep community college transfer students not just in the state, but enrolled in New Hampshire’s university system,” reports NPR. However, a 2006 state survey showed that 72 percent of students who start at community college want to transfer to a four-year program but only 20 percent reach that goal.