In boxing terms, the Board of Regents scored a split decision after approving a huge tuition increase for students last week.
The vote was close, 7-6, with the half dozen regents turning down the proposed increases that would have amounted to 16 percent over a four-year period.
Chancellor Dan Klaich and those who voted for the increase point out that this was the first increase since 2011 when regents upped the tuition 11 percent. In case Klaich and the “Magnificent Seven” haven’t noticed, Nevadans are still struggling.
Nevadans still struggle with the day-to-day challenges, still stagger along trying to pay their obligations and help their children receive a higher education. Now, parents and university-age students face a tuition increase that is more than the inflation rate.
When the idea of a huge tuition increase surfaced, Regent Ron Knecht, who represents the Western Nevada College campuses, opposed the increase and was one of six who voted against it. An economist by trade, Knecht knew the wisdom in raising tuition by 16 percent was not sound money management, and we agree.
Students now pay $191.50 per credit, but in four years, that amount will be $224 a credit. At the Northern Nevada community colleges, tuition goes from $84.50 a credit to $98.75 per credit in four years.
Even the student governments differed on their support with UNLV opposed to any tuition increase, while the University of Nevada, Reno, student government and graduate student associated supported the measure. While the two government bodies at Reno supported it, more than 50 students in February confronted their student leaders opposed to any tuition increase, yet their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Regents, though, said something must be done to offset the millions of dollars that have been cut by the state legislature since 2007, so it appears the most logical solution to them is to place more of a burden on the middle class.
Said one student regarding the tuition increase, “I might have to drop out, go to community college or become a part-time student and full-time employee.”
If regents were to ask most students and parents, they would discover that the majority does not favor such a steep increase. In fact, according to The Associated Press, up to 5 million Americans are struggling to make their monthly student loan payments. Legislation in the nation’s capital would allow borrowers refinance their student loans at lower rates.
Just because Nevada’s current and proposed tuition rates are lower than many states in the West, that doesn’t mean parents and students have emerged from their financial woes unscathed.
Regents should have seriously taken that factor in account and avoided a double-digit tuition hike that seems unfair to the middle class.
LVN Editorials appear on Wednesdays.