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LETTERS: Tuition hikes necessary to better colleges

To the editor:

The money to pay university system faculty and keep colleges’ lights on comes from tuition and fees, workforce and research grants, and state dollars. State funds for the eight colleges and universities in the Nevada System of Higher Education decreased dramatically following the Great Recession, from a high of $683,818,577 in 2009 to $475,301,128 in 2014. Budget cuts decreased federal research and teaching grants at our campuses and throughout the country, leaving only two sources from which to retain faculty and build our institutions: donations and fees.

My wife and I were first-generation Nevada college graduates. We put ourselves through college with full-time jobs, scholarships and student loans. We did so because we thought it was worth the investment. Recent data has shown that a college education continues to be a wise investment. Those with a four-year degree have an unemployment rate of less than 3 percent and earn an average of almost $500,000 more in a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma or less.

The Nevada Board of Regents has increased tuition and fees since 2008 in order to partially offset the decrease in state funds. In addition, the board increased faculty workloads, imposed faculty and staff wage cuts and furloughs, decreased administrative positions and costs, closed programs and decreased student support services in order to balance the budget. The board continues to look to efficiencies and institutional shared services to maximize the use of its limited resources. In order to continue to build the economy and graduate more students, Nevada needs to continue to invest in higher education. This will require tuition and fee increases, along with additional investment from the state.

As Nevada grows its way out of this deep recession, it has asked higher education to provide more teachers, provide more workforce training and expand graduate medical education. Nevada needs to open a second medical school, achieve Carnegie Very High Research status at the two universities and graduate even more students. Achieving these goals will come at a price. Expanded medical education will require an investment of an additional $20 million to $60 million per year. Improving the research capacity to meet the needs of the state plan for economic development will require a seven-year investment of $56 million at UNR and $60 million at UNLV, plus an estimated $478 million in laboratory/research space and support infrastructure.

The decision to raise tuition and fees, which will be made at Friday’s Board of Regents meeting in Reno, is not an easy one. But it is a necessary step. All tuition and fee increases that have come before the board in my time have been supported by strategic spending plans and backed by students and faculty. The increases in fees are intended to provide a portion of the required resources to meet the needs of Nevada and its citizens.

JASON GEDDES

RENO

The writer represents District 11 on the Nevada Board of Regents.

Animal adoption

To the editor:

I see that 309 dogs were saved by lowering the price of adoption to $40 (“Animal Foundation: Adoption event saved lives of more than 300 dogs,” Saturday Review-Journal). Many more people would adopt animals if the prices were lowered from the standard fee, which is between $105 and $155. The difference could be spent on feeding these new pets.

I know it costs a lot of money to spay and neuter animals, but it also costs a lot of money to feed and house them, and to euthanize those pets that aren’t adopted. Keep the fees low and give more pets the opportunity to be adopted.

DUSTY BURROWS

LAS VEGAS

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