State officials anticipate higher tuition costs | NevadaAppeal.com

State officials anticipate higher tuition costs

Legislative leaders and a university spokesman agreed Thursday students probably are going to have to shoulder more of the cost of their education in the future.

Assembly Ways and Means Chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, said he has talked to a number of students and that most have said they would rather pay more and keep the professors so they can get needed classes and graduate on time.

Vice Chancellor Dan Klaich said that is what university officials have found in polling students as well.

But Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said if that’s the case, the Legislature will have to consider changing its policy that currently requires most tuition increases go to offset state dollars in the campus budgets.

That policy has long frustrated both lawmakers and university officials. The campuses repeatedly have used different tactics to get around giving the money back to the state, such as earmarking it for different purposes.

They said the rule is unfair because students won’t and shouldn’t have to accept higher tuition unless they get something for it.

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Lawmakers have rejected that argument and, in 2005, issued a letter of intent telling campus officials they must use future increases in tuition revenues to offset state general fund money.

Chancellor Jim Rogers recently issued a list of suggestions to raise more money for the university system including raising the cost of classes. Rogers has emphatically argued that does the schools no good unless the campuses get to keep the money to provide more professors and student services.

At Thursday’s meeting, Raggio acknowledged the issue, referring to Rogers’ proposal.

“We’d better be mindful that in the past we have resisted the utilization of these fee increases,” he said. “We may have to revisit that issue.”

Without more funding, he said, more cuts are unavoidable and could involve changes in class sizes and potentially capping enrollments.

“As cuts sink deeper into the operational budgets, I think we’re going to have to make some of those decisions,” he said.

Klaich said that unfortunately for the university system, economic problems actually cause increases in enrollments, not decreases.

“When there’s higher unemployment in a situation like we have today, our enrollments go up because there are folks who need to retrain and seek new jobs,” he said.

The discussion occurred as members of the Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees acted to formally implement the university system’s first round of budget cuts.

– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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