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Degree still valuable, debt or no, Nevada treasurer says

Graduates entering the job market during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009 faced some of the worst job prospects of the past two decades, leaving many facing long-term underemployment and contributing to the student debt crisis.

But even amid concerns that another downturn may be near, Nevada Treasurer Zachary Conine says there’s no reason would-be students should put off higher education.

“The one thing we know is that there will be more jobs available for people with degrees, for people with skills, than people without,” Conine said. “You’re going to need a skill set for a majority of jobs that is more than what you’re going to get in high school.”

Conine also says that an influx of jobs outside industries such as tourism and construction will help recession-proof the state. A more educated populace attracts such jobs, which further encourages college attendance and so on in a cyclical fashion, he said.

As for the cause of Nevada’s rising total student debt, Conine says it’s likely a mix of the growing student population and the rising cost of living.

The key for students at public, private and for-profit institutions is to ensure they take out reasonable loans — a goal of the newly created student loan ombudsman position — and graduate, Conine said.

NSHE’s graduation rate hovers around 47 percent at four-year institutions and 16 percent at two-year institutions, though the numbers are lower for students of color in particular.

“The most expensive loan is the one that goes to students who don’t finish,” Conine advised. “If you start this process, finish this process.”

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at aappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0218. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

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