Now more than ever, value drives student decisions on where to attend to college – or whether to attend college at all. Last year, a Bloomberg analysis revealed that college tuition and fees have increased more than 1,100 percent since 1978. By comparison, health care costs have grown 601 percent over the past three decades, and the cost of food has increased just 244 percent, the study found.
As a result, high school graduates have a growing incentive to begin their advanced studies at community colleges, which have long been the best value in higher education. The College of Southern Nevada charges residents about $90 per lower-division credit in tuition and fees, while the University of Nevada, Las Vegas costs more than twice as much. CSN students typically get smaller class sizes and professors leading every course for credits that can be transferred to degree programs at universities and four-year colleges.
Sometimes, however, saving thousands of dollars on tuition comes at a maddening cost: Some community college credits aren’t recognized by universities.
“You hear stories about students having trouble transferring,” Darren Divine, CSN’s vice president for academic affairs, told the Review-Journal’s Richard Lake last week. “A lot of times, it’s because students haven’t been given reliable information.”
So it’s encouraging that CSN and UNLV leaders are newly committed to making sure students get the right information about transferable credits. Because CSN academic advisers can’t speak for UNLV, UNLV will place transfer advisers at CSN campuses, positions that had been eliminated years ago in budget cuts. They’ll be plenty busy, too – more than 1,000 students transferred from CSN to UNLV last semester.
Most students lack the resources to explore all of their interests at college. They have a budget. They want to accumulate as little debt as possible. They have a plan. Having to take classes at universities that were completed at a community college because they were supposed to transfer, but didn’t, can blow up student budgets and push back graduation dates.
Bravo to CSN and UNLV for working to provide their students with certainty and accountability in pursuing the most affordable college education possible.