Board of Regents to review state's higher ed tuition and fees


Last year, facing an unprecedented budget crisis, higher education officials tweaked Nevada's tuition and fee policy to allow for higher prices at the state's public colleges and universities.

Now, the higher education system's governing Board of Regents is abandoning the policy altogether and starting over.

The Board of Regents voted Thursday to suspend the current policy while it studies a new plan.

"This is not a tweaking," said Dan Klaich, the state's higher education chancellor. "It's a complete change in policy."

Traditionally in Nevada, tuition and fees at the state's public colleges and universities have been determined by a simple formula, which used regional averages to determine prices here.

When the policy was changed last year, the old one was called complicated and unwieldy. The new policy essentially did the same thing as the old one but tied tuition increases in Nevada to national trends instead of to regional prices.

Klaich said the problem with both of those approaches is that they do not take into account the needs in Nevada's higher education system.

"Tuition and fee policy in my opinion should be written in a way that addresses the goals of the system and the goals of the state," he said.

Those goals include getting more people to go to college and increasing the number of graduates statewide.

A new tuition policy will be studied by a committee that Klaich is putting together. It will be called the Committee to Study Access and Affordability. The committee will include representatives from the colleges and universities, students and parents.

Its purpose will be to review current fees and recent increases while considering income levels in Nevada, financial aid trends in Nevada, and trends in affordability, including college participation by low-income students.

Klaich said the committee should be ready with a set of recommendations before the next budget is due to state lawmakers a year from now.

Recommendations will be about how tuition and fees are set and about financial aid policies.

Aimee Riley, the chairwoman of the Nevada Student Alliance, an umbrella group of student body presidents, said she would press for student input.

She said students see the committee's work as having the potential to improve pricing in some areas, such as the individual course fees and other fees charged by the institutions. She said that money should go directly to supporting students, not to less direct interests.

But, she said, students are also worried that the entire endeavor is simply an excuse to raise tuition. She said they would fight that outcome.

"That's where we stand at this point," she said.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.

 

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