Raising the cost of college | NevadaAppeal.com

Raising the cost of college

Nevada Appeal editorial board

Raising tuition at Nevada’s universities and colleges in order to help needy students afford to pay tuition strikes us as the worst kind of circular reasoning.

The Board of Regents on Friday voted to increase the cost of tuition by 8 percent next year and 7 percent the year after that.

Half of the money, about $9 million, will go toward scholarships to help people who can’t afford to go to college.

Three points need to be made here:

— By increasing the cost of tuition, the regents increased the number of students who can’t afford to attend college. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to lower the cost of tuition, if the goal was to make college more affordable?

It’s simply a bad policy to be redistributing wealth based on the cost of college tuition.

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— The cost of taking classes at Nevada’s colleges and universities already is covered by Millennium Scholarships. Students graduating from Nevada high schools with at least a B average can have their tuition paid if they attend an in-state college or university.

Perhaps the regents saw a tuition increase simply as a way to suck more money out of the Millennium Scholarship fund, which is built with tobacco-settlement money.

The result, however, is to charge more from students who can afford to pay or who maintained an above-average academic record in order to give the money to students who can’t afford to pay and couldn’t maintain a B average.

— The $9 million from tuition increases that will go toward need-based scholarships is small compared with the $31 million UNR threw at a failing Fire Academy, the $26 million spent on a building for a new college in Henderson, and the $3 million that went into unauthorized changes at the Lied Library project at UNLV — to name three recent fiscal controversies for the university system.

A bit of fiscal restraint at the top, it seems, and there would be plenty of money for needy students.

To their credit, some regents opposed the tuition increases. It shows how conflicted they were over the reasoning behind the higher costs when Regent Linda Howard noted minority students often are the first to be driven away from college by rising costs, but scholarships are needed to help diversify the campus.

Perhaps it would clarify the issue if regents would think of tuition as the price they charge their customers, and not as a tool for political and social change.