Regents OK 8 percent fee increase

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LAS VEGAS -- Students at Nevada's universities and colleges will have to pay 8 percent more to attend class starting Spring 2003.

Regents of the University and Community College System of Nevada voted Friday to increase fees and tuition by 8 percent for the 2003-2004 years and by 7 percent in the 2004-2005.

The increase would raise the current cost per undergraduate credit at the University of Nevada, Reno, from $79 to $85.

Part of the fee increase is designed to raise money for scholarships, according to Nevada president John Lilley.

"I am pleased we are able to increase the amount of need-based scholarships available to our students through this increase," Lilley said.

"If students know where their money goes and if they can see an increase in scholarships that are based on need, then they will understand," said Alicia Lerud, president of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada. "The most important issue to us is the student access fees, which go toward need-based scholarships. I feel good that with those increases, students will get better services and need-based scholarships will be increased and that adds to the diversity of our campus."

At their meeting last month, regents balked at approving the increase.

Chancellor Jane Nichols said the money is needed not only for the system's general budget but to boost funding available for student aid. Half the increase would be dedicated to help needy students.

"I've got a problem with the fact that 50 percent of the increase is basically going to subsidize somebody else's children," said Regent Steve Sisolak last month.

He said he agrees with helping needy and nonwhite students -- which are seriously under-represented on Nevada's campuses -- but said he doesn't think other students should have to pay the tab.

Regent Doug Hill also said he has "some concern about taxing one group to subsidize another."

Those comments prompted an objection from Regent Linda Howard, who said minority students are the ones most likely to be driven out of higher education by any fee increases. She said dedicating some of the fee increases to student aid is important to improve campus diversity.

At the same time, however, she said she opposes any fee increases.

Nichols told the board last month she believes the increases are important to show the Legislature the system and its students are willing to help shoulder rising costs of higher education.

She added that dedicating half the tuition increase to student aid would generate about $9 million a year.

Nichols said while students don't really want to pay more for classes, "their message was loud and clear that, if they have to step up to the table, they feel the state should have to step up too."


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