$1.266 billion for higher education
Members of legislative money committees were told Tuesday the governor’s proposed budget includes $1.266 billion in state money to fund the higher education system for the coming two years.
Vic Redding of the chancellor’s office said the $143.9 million increase in the General Fund appropriation proposed by the Board of Regents and recommended by Gov. Brian Sandoval is 12.8 percent more than the current budget and gets the system back to the level of General Fund money it had before the recession hit.
That amount is roughly two-thirds of the total System of Higher Education budget. The rest, more than $600 million, comes from student fees, tuition and other sources, bringing the total proposed budget to just under $2 billion for the biennium.
Since the recession, the system budget has shifted more and more onto the backs of the students attending the two universities and five other campuses. Acting Chancellor John White said that process will continue because the system is now in the middle of a four-year series of fee increases that will put the per credit cost for undergraduates at UNR and UNLV at $215.50 this coming school year and $224 per credit in the following year.
“A substantial portion of funding at the institutions is student fee funding,” he said.
Asked whether there would be more increases after that, White said he doubts it at this point.
“These are controversial increases and student capacity to absorb additional increases is limited,” he said. “My sense of this board is they are not interested in tuition increases at the moment.”
He said that issue will be visited in the biennial Tuition Commission the chancellor creates following the close of the legislative session.
That schedule of fees is higher for UNR/UNLV graduate students, rising to $274.75 by the 2018-19 school year. Community college fees at Western Nevada, Truckee Meadows, Great Basin and College of Southern Nevada are significantly lower. Lower division (beginning) classes at WNC and the others will rise to $95 in the 2018 year and $98.75 the following year. Upper division classes will cost $155.50 in 2018 and $161.75 in 2019. Those fees are for residents of Nevada. Non residents must pay those fees plus more than $14,000 a year in tuition at the universities, some $6,900 at the community colleges.
Tuesday’s hearing was the first of several lawmakers will need to delve into the complex budgets of the two universities, Nevada State College and the four community colleges that make up the Nevada System of Higher Education.