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Regents vote to increase Nevada college tuition

The cost of going to college in Nevada is about to go up.

The Board of Regents voted 7-6 Friday to raise the cost of attendance at all public institutions of higher learning in the state.

Beginning fall 2015, university and community college undergraduate registration fees will rise 4 percent per year for four years. At universities, graduate registration fees will rise 2 percent each year for four years. Nevada State College’s undergraduate fees will rise 2.5 percent in the first year and 3.5 percent each year for the following three years.

Tuition was last raised by 8 percent in 2011.

Increased fees will affect UNLV, University of Nevada, Reno, College of Southern Nevada, Nevada State College, Western Nevada College, Great Basin College and Truckee Meadows Community College.

Registration fees are akin to tuition, as it is called in other states. In Nevada, residents pay registration fees but no tuition. Nonresidents pay both.

Registration fees at UNLV and University of Nevada, Reno are now $191.50 per credit. By the 2018-2019 school year, they will be $224 per credit, meaning students taking a full load of 15-credits per semester will pay $487.50 more per semester during the 2018-2019 school year.

At community colleges, students now pay $84.50 per credit. By 2018-2019, they will pay $98.75 per credit. CSN students taking a course load of 15 credits would pay $52.50 more per semester in fall 2015. By 2018, they would pay $213.75 more per semester.

NSC credits now cost $138.25. By 2018, they will be $157 — a difference of $281.25 per 15-credit semester.

At UNLV, money generated by the fee increases will be used for faculty and staff positions and promotions, financial aid and resource centers. At CSN, fees will pay for full-time support staff positions, such as academic and financial aid counselors.

Regents Cedric Crear, Jason Geddes, James Dean Leavitt, Kevin Melcher, Rick Trachok, Michael Wixom and Andrea Anderson voted in favor of the increase. Robert Blakely, Mark Doubrava, Kevin Page, Jack Schofield, Allison Stephens and Ron Knecht voted against it.

Stephens and Knecht had previously opposed tuition increases, but Schofield said he was moved by student testimony during public comment.

“The students, they got to me today. You got to this World War II veteran,” said Schofield, noting how the G.I. Bill paid his way to college.

About 30 students attended the meeting in Reno and at satellite locations in Las Vegas. Most asked the regents not to pass the tuition hike, though a few supported it.

UNLV’s student government opposed the measure, while UNR’s student government and graduate student association supported it.

UNR graduate student leader RJ Boyajian asked regents to note that the majority of student opposition was from UNLV.

“It’s going to make us leaders in education,” Boyajian said.

UNLV student government senator and engineering student Betzabe Sanchez said the increase would affect her ability to attend classes.

“I might have to drop out, go to community college or become a part-time student and full-time employee,” she said.

Another engineering student mirrored her sentiments.

“I don’t think it’s right to basically pay for essentially a car just to go to school,” she said. “I think there should be other ways of funding this.”

Regent Wixom said cuts to the Nevada System of Higher Education began in 2007 and continued through 2010, amounting to a third of the budget being slashed.

“We cannot realistically expect the Legislature to fund enhanced medical education and a Tier 1 effort if we don’t take responsibility for our own future,” he said.

Geddes said the regents would ask Legislature for $120 million.

“We’re not putting all of this on the back of the student, but the fees are a part of it,” he said.

Stephens called for more pressure on the Legislature to increase the budget. Knecht noted that tuition increases had outpaced inflation.

“The burden, in relative terms, is twice what it used to be,” Knecht said.

Nonresident tuition will rise 2 percent in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years for community colleges and universities. NSC’s nonresident tuition will rise 4 percent each year.

Regents will consider fee increases for UNLV’s law school, dental school and the University of Nevada School of Medicine at a later date.

Regents amended the initial proposal to include accountability from the school’s presidents. In December of each year, presidents will report how the additional money was used.

Contact reporter Kristy Totten at ktotten@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3809. Follow her on Twitter: @kristy_tea.

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