Infographic by Nicole Kowalewski

Staff Report

This semester, the Western Undergraduate Exchange program has made it possible for 900 freshman at the University of Nevada, Reno, to receive lower out-of-state tuition. They make up a large chunk of the nearly 2,000 students who receive the discount. But due to policy changes  that will be applied in next fall, it may be more challenging for 2016’s incoming freshmen to receive the WUE tuition rates.

Due to unpredictable growth the past few years, the administration has outlined details on how to stabilize the rise in student population in the university’s master plan. Tweaking requirements for the WUE is one method for doing so, and Dr. Steve Maples, UNR’s admissions director, says the university has to make sure students are paying their dues and that growth is manageable.

“The WUE students have done phenomenal here as a whole group as far as their retention and graduation rates,” Maples said. “I’m one of the biggest proponents for that, but we need to make sure students are also paying what they should.”

He says that making the requirements more difficult to meet can help bring even more qualified students and funds to the university. Students will have to come in with a higher academic grade point average of 3.25, up from the 3.0 standard of recent years. Score requirements for the ACT and SAT have also risen from 22 to 26 and 1100 to 1170 minimum, respectively.

Maples does not want incoming students who still meet the old WUE requirements to feel discouraged. Although they won’t qualify for that tuition discount, the university has introduced a new option, the Nevada Advantage, that still lowers out-of-state tuition to a lesser extent. Maples says there are many benefits to helping out-of-state students attend UNR.

“One of the reasons why we want to continue to look at offering these opportunities is that the out-of-state students who come on these kind of discounts retain at a greater rate,” Maples said. “They graduate at a greater rate and they also add to the experience for the rest of the students.”

Maples stated that there is one important issue to consider due to the large number of students paying lower tuition, either through WUE or in-state tuition prices — with a growing student population the cost of instruction becomes more difficult to cover for the university. He says that including another tier for tuition discount options will help even things out more.

With the new addition, the amount of WUE students will significantly drop. The number of freshmen who qualify for it in 2016 is projected to fall from 900 to 300. Maples estimates that the students who still meet the old standards will make up both the costs and student numbers by attending the university while paying lower out-of-state tuition through the Nevada Advantage.

“[Nevada Advantage] students will pay about $12,400 [a year],” Maples said. “Now we can turn to the legislature, the Board of Regents and everyone who might be concerned about making sure we’re giving opportunities first and foremost to the students of the state of Nevada, and say these students that we’re bringing in are actually paying more than the cost of instruction.”

Senior criminal justice major Meaghan Delaney says that without the program, she couldn’t study here at UNR. Delaney, who had residency in California, has been at the university since fall of 2012 and says the discount has made it much less stressful to pay for an education.

“Without it, I might as well go back to my [original] home state, New Jersey, and get in-state tuition there,” Delaney said.

Maples has made it clear that students currently using the WUE discount at UNR don’t have to worry about changes to the policy that are set to be implemented next fall. 

The news desk can be reached at jsolis@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.