New Hampshire


New Hampshire’s college completion rate ranks in the top five and its medium income is outpaced by only a few states. Yet, the population is aging and young college graduates are leaving the state — possibly for other opportunities in the New England region. Further, a substantial portion of the state’s population that remains is underprepared for the knowledge economy and does not always share in the income prosperity of other residents.

The state legislature delegates policymaking authority to the postsecondary community, but can leverage partnerships with institutions and businesses to strengthen college and career pathways for a broader segment of the population. While producing bachelor degrees will remain important, the legislature should consider how to increase the number of certificates and associate degrees awarded for both younger and older, low- and middle-skilled adults. In particular, policymakers should create incentives for postsecondary institutions to meet the needs of STEM and high-tech industries. A state strategy to align postsecondary productivity and workforce demands could help New Hampshire’ economy grow faster than projected.


How does New Hampshire rank compared to the national average?

  • Adults 25-64 with college degrees: 5th (44.6% vs. 38%)
  • High school graduates going directly to college: 23rd (63.9% vs. 63.3%)
  • STEM credentials awarded per 1,000 STEM employees: 49th (31.4% vs. 54.4%)
  • Undergraduate awards per 100 FTE undergraduates: 4th (21.9% vs. 19%)
  • Workers with college degrees earning low wages: 18th (23.1% vs. 22.9%)
  • Workers with some college earning low wages: 4th (35.3% vs. 41.8%)


New Hampshire Data Profile

New Hampshire Data PowerPoint

The college attainment rate in New Hampshire is substantially higher than the national average. Growth in STEM and health care fields has attracted knowledge workers to the state. However, most high school graduates enroll in college outside of the state and might not return upon completion of their degrees. Combined with a rapidly aging population and a large proportion of middle-aged adults who are underprepared for high-wage positions, the main priority is attracting and retaining workers to sustain economic growth.




Boosting College Completion has produced a comprehensive 50-state legislative database related to college completion and workforce development. The database will grow as we continue to collect and analyze policies.

Check out the BCC database for a summary of New Hampshire’s policies. Click on the Menu arrow for additional options, such as printing the summary.

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Boosting College Completion has developed a policy profile for New Hampshire based on an analysis of data and policies related to college completion and workforce development.

New Hampshire Policy Profile

New Hampshire is a unique state with a highly productive postsecondary education system, a college completion rate ranking in the top five and median incomes outpaced by only a few states. On the other end, the state’s workforce is aging, young college graduates are leaving the state and a substantial proportion of the population that remains is underprepared for the knowledge economy. In this environment, greater alignment between postsecondary productivity and workforce demand could sustain economic growth and improve individual incomes.

By leveraging postsecondary investments more effectively and by aligning higher education capacity with specific workforce needs, the state’s economy could grow faster than currently projected. Conversely, failing to respond to workforce demands in high-growth industries, such as STEM, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, could compound the challenges brought about by an aging and increasingly underprepared workforce. As New Hampshire considers efforts to increase postsecondary participation among older adults, the legislature might evaluate:

  1. The impact of state and postsecondary system policies on increasing postsecondary attainment for the adult population
  2. Incentives for adults earning below a livable wage to enroll in and complete certificate and degree programs
  3. Current and projected workforce demand, focusing on two priorities: immediate training of low-skill adults displaced by the recession and retaining bachelor’s degree holders by better matching postsecondary programs with workforce demand
  4. More effective coordination between public and private postsecondary sectors to define and address workforce challenges.



News & Updates

Policy Leaders





Sen. Nancy Stiles, Chair, Education Committee




New Hampshire is participating in the following national initiatives that are related to college completion and workforce development:

Common Core Standards Initiative

SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium

Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Program (TAACCCT)



The following resources were produced by Boosting College Completion, state agencies and postsecondary systems.

New Hampshire Data Profile

New Hampshire Data PowerPoint

New Hampshire Policy Profile


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