College tuitions going up at Nevada schools

The price of university classes will increase nearly 19 percent and community college offerings more than 8 percent over the next two years to help cover the system's $1.73 billion two-year spending plan.

University classes will rise from $105.25 per undergraduate credit to $129.50 per credit in fiscal 2009. Community college classes will increase from $52.50 to $57.25 per credit. Those increases raise the total student contribution to the budget by a percent to 22.1 percent and reduce the state's share by the same.

Since 1997, university fees per credit have doubled while community college fees increased 55 percent.

That university system's budget is 15 percent more than the current two-year budget and the amount recommended by Gov. Jim Gibbons. But it doesn't include the 2 percent and 4 percent cost-of-living raises and fringe benefit increases endorsed by the governor for all state and school employees. Nor does it include the $110 million Gibbons included from surplus in the state treasury to jump start construction of facilities for the Health Sciences Center project or enhancements sought by the two universities, Henderson State College and the four community colleges.

When all those are added in, the total sought by the university system is more than $2.1 billion.

Consultant Dan Miles, presenting the proposed budgets, told a joint session of the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees the state's total share of the budget increases 16 percent to $1.34 billion. The remaining $370 million in the operating budget comes from students and other sources.

The cost of living raises will add $44.5 million and fringe benefit enhancements will add $34.3 million to the total.

In addition, the system is asking for numerous enhancements not included in the governor's recommended budget. One of the largest single increases is $69 million to increase the system's formula funding from 85.5 percent to 89 percent. The system has also requested revenue bonds totaling $187.9 million for five specific projects, including a $10 million residence hall at Western Nevada Community College in Carson City.

To provide enhancements to programs within the Health Sciences Center project, they requested $67.9 million not in the governor's proposed budget. University officials told the committees those projects focus on neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, methamphetamine addiction and illnesses caused by radiation.

The presentation came as part of the budget overview for the money committees, which must review and refine both the governor's recommended budgets and any enhancements sought by the agencies before the budget goes before the Legislature for final approval.

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

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