Chancellor vows to fix funding formula for Nevada colleges

The formula used to distribute state money to Nevada's colleges and universities is broken.

Everyone has been saying that for years.

This year, higher education Chancellor Dan Klaich wants to fix it.

"There's a ton of work left to do," he told the higher education system's Board of Regents on Friday.

Klaich presented a plan Friday to the regents that would rewrite the formula.

The current formula distributes money generally based on enrollments at the colleges and universities. It provides no incentives to produce college graduates, to conduct research or to improve the quality of programs.

Klaich's plan would base allocation on a few general criteria: the cost of each credit hour at a particular institution, research missions for universities and the size of the institution for the colleges, and performance, generally measured by the number of graduates produced.

None of the details has been hammered out. Klaich said he wants to have the new formula completed before September, when the higher education system's proposed budget for the next two-year legislative cycle is due to the governor's office.

"The old formula is clearly no longer sustainable," UNLV President Neal Smatresk said.

Smatresk has made a point of noting that UNLV gets shortchanged because it takes in far more in out-of-state tuition than any other institution in Nevada but does not get to keep that money. He estimates the university loses $12 million to $17 million each year.

The three institutions in Southern Nevada have complained that there is an unequal distribution of resources. More than two-thirds of the state's population is in Clark County, and more than two-thirds of the revenue in the state's general fund comes from Clark County.

Yet just half the state money spent on higher education is allocated to the three institutions in Clark County: UNLV, Nevada State College and the College of Southern Nevada.

In response to questions from several regents, Klaich said a key part of the plan is also that legislators allow the colleges and universities to keep the tuition generated on campus. As it stands now, money raised through tuition is essentially subtracted from whatever state support the institution receives.

Contact reporter Richard Lake at or 702-383-0307.