Students at the University of Nevada, Reno and Western Nevada College must pay more for each credit they take, the Board of Regents decided Friday.
The undergraduate cost at UNR will rise 5 percent to $136 per credit hour next year and another 5 percent to $142.75 for the 2010-2011 school year.
At WNC, the 5 percent a year will increase credit charges to $60 next year and $63 per credit the following year.
Campus presidents and Vice Chancellor Dan Klaich told the board the 5 percent a year increase was to offset inflation, not a response to the state's budget crunch.
Klaich said the increases are 10 percent for graduate-level classes, raising the per credit costs there to $217.75, then $239.50.
David Ashley of UNLV said the problem is that nearly two-thirds of the tuition increase goes to the state to offset the system's general fund budget.
"That means the amount of money we have out of this to deal with inflation on campus is something less than 5 percent," Ashley said.
UNR President Milton Glick told the board that students there have said they will support a 9 percent fee increase, but only if it goes to services and needs which benefit them. He made it clear students don't support raising what they pay for classes to reduce the amount the state spends.
Regent Howard Rosenberg, himself a professor at UNR, agreed.
"For a 15-credit load, that comes to about $100 additional per semester," he said. "That's not a lot of money, but I do think they (students) want the money to stay on campus."
Klaich said the board "has not gotten finality to that discussion." The Legislature in 2005 issued a letter of intent admonishing the system not to earmark future increases in fees for campus projects.
The letter makes it clear lawmakers want any increase in tuition and fee revenue to go to the state and reduce the general fund budget.
Regent Chairman Michael Wixom questioned the logic of that.
"Why don't we keep all our fees and tuition anyway?" Wixom asked. "Why do they get any of it anyway?"
"I think there's a fundamental belief in state government that students should bear a share of the cost of higher education," Klaich said.
He said given the budget situation, "we may be facing a situation where state revenues don't allow significant increases to our budgets."
He said that may force the board to "look at a time where tuition could be raised beyond inflation," particularly at the two university campuses. But, he said, doing that now "would put us into the position of cycling more into the state supported budgets."
Regent Ron Knecht cast the only vote against the increases. But he later joined the majority of the board and voted to approve tuition increases for three professional schools: the law school medical school and dental school.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.
Current 2009-10 2010-11
Undergraduate $129.50 $136 $142.75
Graduate $198 $217.75 $239.50
$57.25 $60 $63
$93.50 $98.25 $103.25