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Western Nevada College News & Notes: Students saving money at WNC

Steve Yingling
Western Nevada College
Hugh Welden, left, helps student Kristen Hill in Western Nevada College’s Financial Assistance Office in Carson City.
Courtesy |

As area college students seek to minimize loan debt and balance their budgets, they are reaching out to Western Nevada College for their first two years of higher education.

Considering four-year students at the University of Nevada, Reno pay more than twice what WNC students do for tuition, many students are electing to save their precious dollars by attending WNC for at least two years before transferring to a university.

WNC students are paying $97 per credit while UNR students are shelling out a hefty $219.25 per credit.

Tuition costs for full-time WNC students are approximately $1,455 for Nevada residents who are enrolled in 15 credits, compared to $3,570 to attend UNR. That total doesn’t include the additional fees UNR students pay for the health center, counseling services, performance arts, student union, fitness center and more.

Costs are significantly higher for out-of-state residents. At the very least, WNC students are saving $8,400 in their two years of education at Western Nevada.

“It’s a better bargain at WNC because they can get the courses they need to transfer to the university,” said JW Lazzari, WNC’s director of Financial Aid. “A lot of students also come here because of the convenience of being closer to home, so they can continue to live at home. And, they don’t have to pay parking and other university fees.”

Another financial plus of attending WNC is students can expand their financial aid benefits to reduce or eliminate the need for a loan, Lazzari said.

“Their financial aid stretches much further than it would at UNR,” Lazzari said. “With maximum eligibility in a federal Pell Grant, they can pay off their total tuition and still have some money left for books and supplies.

“They won’t have to borrow as early, so they can save their borrowing for meeting other needs.”

Saddled with normal living expenses such as rent, utilities, books, food, transportation and child care, working students are considering more ways to become financially responsible and eliminate some of the financial barriers of attending college.

“I always just tell myself that I’m in a low-income lifestyle and that means that I’m not out partying every night,” said Hugh Welden, a 2016 WNC graduate who now works in the WNC Financial Assistance Office. “There are many things that I want, but there are absolute things that I need. I define what is need and what is want.”

Other ways Welden saves money are by biking to school and work, and packing his lunches. Biking not only saves him money on gas but on car insurance as well, since providers provide lower rates for drivers traveling less than 3,000 miles a year.

“Cars burn cash and cause fat; I burn fat and save cash,” said Welden, who’s married. “We’re very good at paying for what we need and not going past our limits.”

Another benefit of colleges such as WNC is a lower cost for changing an academic major and career path, Welden said.

“To shift gears at a university costs you a lot more than it would here,” Welden said. “And down here I was able to zero in on exactly what I want to be — an academic counselor.”

Northern Nevada high school students can really save money on funding their higher education by participating in WNC’s Jump Start College. Juniors and seniors at participating area high schools can earn up to an associate degree by the time they graduate from high school, with the cost their tuition and books covered.

Additionally, students can save money while attending college by taking summer classes to shorten their time in school, applying for scholarships, maximizing their course loads to finish their degree earlier, renting instead of purchasing textbooks or checking them out at the library, paying off credit card balances each month to avoid accruing interest, using student discounts, living with others, sharing the costs of groceries with roommates, utilizing on-campus entertainment, selling the belongings they aren’t using, making their own coffee, and by not owning a pet.

Many students earn their associate degree at WNC, then transfer to a four-year university to complete their bachelor’s. Others pursue career training and certifications at WNC so they can begin employment sooner. For either career pathway, students can make their dollars stretch as they prepare for the next step in their lives.

“A lot of students aren’t ready to take on driving to Reno and being on the big campus, and coming to WNC is a welcome savings for them,” Lazzari said.

Welden is preparing for that life-changing move to the larger campus so he can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance.

“Here, it’s not that expensive, but going to UNR I’m expecting a huge spike,” he said. “Even my rent is going up 100 or more dollars.”

To learn more about the costs and savings of attending WNC, phone the Financial Assistance Office at 775-445-3264 or email finaid1@wnc.edu. Prospective students can schedule a telephone appointment with a financial aid counselor by using WNC’s financial aid scheduling app at fawnc.youcanbook.me.