R-JENERATION: Las Vegas high school students face financial challenges when saving for higher education


Hitting the books has become as hard as the current economic situation.

For some families, saving money for their children's college tuitions has become an increasingly difficult challenge.

"My parents have had to completely empty my college account for other expenses," says Coronado High School junior Ben Call.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition for both public and private colleges in the United States in 2010 was $17,464. The average rate has increased by more than $10,000 from a base average of $3,101 in 1980.

To go to a private four-year college in 2010, a student would on average need $32,184. Based on these rates, when a child born in 2012 goes to college, that child will need almost $100,000 for college tuition.

Regardless of the high cost of a college education, some students say it is worth it.

"Without a college degree you will probably not get a very good job," says Foothill High School junior Aldo San Pedro. "With all the competition out there for even the minimum wage jobs, having the college diploma makes you a better candidate than the other guy without one."

Nonetheless, some students are shrugging off higher education as simply another unnecessary financial burden.

"The more I think about it, the more college seems like a huge waste of money," says Foothill junior Lucas Garner. "I think about how a lot of the billionaires got rich, and it was by investing or inventing, not college. Look at Steve Jobs, he only went to college for six months."

College savings programs such as the 529 plan are available for those interested in higher education, but students have argued about their effectiveness.

"My parents and I deposit money into a bank account every month for my college education," says San Pedro. "We don't really know if these funds are going to be around when I will be going to college. I want to make sure that the money is there when I need it."

Other students are unable to save enough of their own money for college and are relying on other help to get through school.

"I want to get a good job, so I think college is necessary," says Coronado junior Brenna Carver. "But to pay for school, I am going to have to join the United States Air Force."

There is a college savings plan available to Nevada residents from birth.

According to the Nevada State Treasurer's Office, the Nevada Prepaid Tuition program allows for various payment methods, from paying a lump sum to monthly installments. The program also is valid for transfer to other out-of-state colleges and can be transferred between family members.

According to the treasurer's office, in just a few years, more than 12,000 residents have paid almost $65 million into the program.