The excess credit fee approved by the Board of Regents that will begin to be implemented this Fall 2014 has raised the question of whether the university system is looking to raise national rankings and not student happiness.

This new fee will apply to students who have accumulated over 180 credits (about six years at an institution) towards an undergraduate degree and still have not graduated. The increase will factor in after the 180 credit mark and will result in a tuition increase of 50 percent for every credit hour that is taken. According to an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, at the state’s four-year universities or institutions (University of Nevada, Reno and University of Nevada, Las Vegas) students pay $191.50 per credit hour. The increase in tuition would make it so students would have to pay an additional $95.75 per credit and would add up to a total of $287.25 per three-credit course. According to the article in the Review-Journal, UNR currently has 242 students enrolled that are over 180 credits, less than two percent of the student population.

While this number may look insignificant right now, it is another notch in a long line of fee increases by institutions of higher education in the state. Nevada is a Tier One institution, according to the latest U.S. World and News report, and UNLV is almost at that level. These rankings are catered to schools with large fee increments. With the university becoming more high-profile and research-oriented, it is somewhat easy to see why the Regents wanted to approve this increase since it 1) encourages students to graduate sooner, 2) increases graduation rates and 3) attracts more students to come in and graduate from the university, since it will encourage success.

However, for a student who is still searching for his or her career path, trying to find what interests them and ultimately trying to find happiness in life, the fee increase will only serve to add to the worry. Also, the university must consider the trade-off of forcing those students who are unhappy with their majors to graduate with their degrees and maybe leaving them with a bad taste from their experiences at the university. Students also take many routes to graduation, including studying abroad, taking time off and countless other circumstances.

There are some positives to the increase, but the welfare of the students should be a chief concern, not only pushing them through school. This is the university system’s move to keep up with other states that have adopted this policy from Texas and Arizona to North Carolina and Virginia. While the funds that will be accrued from this will be channeled towards counseling and advising services, the students still need to find their own paths through college, which might be harder with the specter of more fees looming in the distance.

The age of a college Van Wilder might be coming to a close in the state of Nevada, but not without some possible backlash from the students. The university is doing its best to open up the discussion to the undergraduates by offering an open forum about fee increases at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday in the Joe Crowley Student Union theater, so it is now the students’ turn to offer insight to a university that is changing under their very feet.

The Nevada Sagebrush editorial staff can be reached at editor@nevadasagebrush.com.