University system chancellor Jane Nichols says the Millennium Scholarship program has dramatically increased the percentage of Nevada high school graduates attending college.
She said Nevada has been "historically at the bottom of the states" in the percentage of graduates going on to college. She said only 33 percent went on to college in 1992. By 1998, she told the Board of Regents, the system's efforts had managed to raise that to 40 percent.
But numbers from the fall semester of 2000 -- the first year of the Millennium Scholarship program -- the rate jumped to 49 percent.
"There was a dramatic increase in the college going rate," she said.
At the same time, she said, the number of Nevada high school graduates attending out of state colleges remained stable.
"Overall, we are increasing the college going rate without reducing those going to school out of state," she told the board.
The Millennium Scholarship program was created by Gov. Kenny Guinn and the 1999 Legislature, funded by tobacco settlement money. It guarantees every Nevada high school graduate with at least a B average up to $10,000 for tuition, fees and books to attend a community college or a university in Nevada for four years.
University officials have credited the program with dramatic increases in the number of freshmen taking classes over the past two years. The figures released Wednesday's were the first ones on how many students are using the program who may not have otherwise gone to college.