Every year, Dan Dykes’ son advanced another grade closer to high school graduation.
Every year, college tuition rates climbed higher.
But Dykes breathed easy.
Not because he’s well off or because his son, Darrin, scored scholarships to lessen the $22,000 bill for four years of tuition at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Darrin is now 23 and about to graduate from college, but his tuition rates have been frozen since he was 11. His parents are paying about $9,500 in tuition for four years, less than half of what Darrin’s peers are shelling out.
Darrin and his family don’t have an “in.”
They just signed into Nevada’s Prepaid Tuition Program, available to all Nevada parents or relatives with children ranging from newborns to ninth-graders. Once they sign a contract with the Nevada Office of the State Treasurer, their child’s tuition will be frozen at the current state rates.
“I jumped in as soon as I could,” said Dykes, who was one of the first of 14,000 Nevadans to use the program, now in its 13th year.
When the time comes for college, parents don’t have to pay a dime more for credits no matter how far rates climb, State Treasurer Kate Marshall said.
However, the annual window for signing up closes today and won’t open again until December.
Signing up was a no-brainer for Dykes, a government banking officer for Nevada State Bank. Even with his background, he picked the program over investing the money himself.
“With this, there’s no risk,” he said.
The state takes all the risk.
That is because the state doesn’t let parents wait until their child enters college to pay. Families can pay the state all at once when they sign on, spread payments over five years or pay month to month until their child starts college.
The state then puts that money in a fund. The money is invested, building up the amount to cover the increased cost of tuition when the time comes.
A week ago, Reno parent Robin Johnston took her money out of a college fund at Edward Jones and moved it to the program for her 10-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.
“With Edward Jones, there’s no guarantee what the market will be like when you need the money,” she said.
Marshall said many states once had similar programs, but only 11 states offer it now. The others didn’t invest their money well enough to weather the recession and called it quits when their funds ran dry, she said.
With $122 million in Nevada’s fund, the program is 106 percent funded here, Marshall said.
It’s a win-win for Nevada and parents, said Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, who enrolled his son when he was born two years ago and did the same for his newborn daughter.
“It makes a whole lot of sense to know your kids are taken care of 18 years from now,” he said.
Parents can sign up for two- or four-year schools. Children will be covered at any Nevada college, including specialty schools, such as culinary institutes, she said. The money can be used out of state at eligible institutions nationwide. However, the program will cover only the equivalent of Nevada’s current tuition rate. If it costs more, parents have to make up the difference.
If a student gets a scholarship or doesn’t go to college, parents can be refunded their payments, or the contract can be transferred to another child, even a cousin.
Online enrollment is available at nevadatreasurer.gov or call 702-486-2025.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at
email@example.com or 702-383-0279.