Chancellor: Cuts to budget may affect federal funding
University system Chancellor Dan Klaich says any disproportionate cuts to his state funding could cost hundreds of millions in federal funding.
The Nevada System of Higher Education was the big beneficiary when stimulus funding was announced, getting nearly all of the $394 million for Nevada education. That money, however, came with an important condition to prevent states from taking the education cash then backing state money out of education to use elsewhere. States must basically ensure that K-12 and higher education continue to receive the same percentage of total general fund money they did before receiving the stimulus grants.
“All of the outstanding stimulus funds are budgeted straight into our budget,” he said. “If something goes wrong, we are the ones that will not have any money in 2011.”
The state could cut the system’s funding back as long as it was at the same percentage other state agencies were reduced.
But at current funding levels, K-12 and NSHE funding combined are only $40 million above that threshold and an 8 percent cut to the university system alone would total $40 million, putting NSHE on the brink of losing its stimulus money.
Klaich said beyond the stimulus grants, major funding cuts would force “a massive restructure of the system that has to result in a significant loss of faculty and staff and a very significant reduction in the level of students we are able to serve.”
That, Klaich said, would greatly reduce the ability of all but the wealthier students to get a college education.
“You either dramatically restrict the access to higher education or you dramatically water down the quality of the offering,” he said. “There is no other choice and neither of those are acceptable.”
“Higher education was the great American way to provide a path to the middle class for all citizens,” he said.
He said the burden of paying for higher education is shifting from the state to the students, but that it should happen over time, not all at once.
“You can only raise tuition to a certain extent. If we cover that entire gap with tuition raises, we will have done it in a way that is selling out our future forever.”