Correction, Feb. 20, 2018, 10:31am: A previous version of this story stated eight NSHE schools would be affected by the possible tuition and fee increase. Actually, seven NSHE schools would be affected.
University of Nevada, Reno, undergraduate and graduate students could see a 1.8 percent increase in tuition and fees for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years, pending approval from the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents
The NSHE Tuition and Fees Committee made the recommendation based on inflation, and if approved by the Board of Regents, would apply to seven NSHE schools for both resident and non-resident tuition.
It is the first tuition and fee increase the committee has recommended since 2014, when a four-year, four percent increase was instituted through the 2018-2019 academic year.
Typically, the committee, made up of the NSHE Chancellor and a select number of university and college presidents and student representatives, meets every two years to consider data and make a recommendation to the Board of Regents regarding tuition and fees, according to a report by Chester Burton, Chief Financial Officer at NSHE.
Student hearings were held as well “to gather student input on the committee’s recommendation,” the report says.
At UNR, the 1.8 percent increase would amount to an additional $8.25 per credit hour for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years.
After the last increase from 2014 takes effect, next year’s registration costs at UNR will be $224 for undergraduates and $274.75 for graduate students per credit.
The proposed tuition and fee increase would raise those registration rates to $228 for undergraduates and $279.75 for graduate students in 2019-2020 and $232.25 for undergraduates and $284.75 for graduate students in 2020-2021. The increase would not affect student fees like the ASUN fee, technology fee, health center fee, student success fee, etc.
If the tuition and fee increases are approved, residents would pay $7,884 in 2019-2020 and $8,011.50 in 2020-2021, compared to the $7,509 paid in 2017-2018. Non-resident students would pay $22,365 in 2019-2020 and $22,483.50 in 2020-2021 compared to the $21,981 paid in 2017-2018. This does not include room and board and is based on a 30-credit class schedule.
“Ultimately, the board can choose whether to approve the recommendation,” Burton said.
The Board of Regents can also vote to increase the committee’s recommendation or decide on a lower rate than 1.8 percent, Burton said.
The committee’s recommendation will be presented for information only at the Board of Regents meeting March 1-2, and the board will take action on the proposed increase at its June 7-8 meeting.
Per Board of Regents policy, the minimum annual increase for tuition and fees is set at the Higher Education Price Index, or HEPI, which in 2016 was 1.8 percent.
HEPI is an inflation index for higher education institutions. It is issued in an annual report and is calculated by Commonfund, an asset management firm for nonprofits.
According to the Commonfund website, HEPI “measures the average relative level of prices in a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by colleges and universities each year through current fund educational and general expenditures, excluding research.”
HEPI compiles data from government and economic agencies that cover operational costs for colleges and universities like faculty and employee salaries, utilities, supplies, fringe benefits and miscellaneous services, according to the Commonfund website.
“It’s like the CPI [Consumer Price Index] but specific to higher education,” said Vic Redding, vice president of administration and finance at UNR.
The CPI is used by the federal government to calculate inflation rates for the U.S. economy. The CPI is measured by taking a basket of goods and services, calculating an average of price changes for these goods and services and making a judgement about inflation rates based on those calculations. The HEPI is based on the same idea, but on a smaller scale for colleges and universities.
The NSHE Tuition and Fees Committee recommended the minimum increase based on the 1.8 percent HEPI calculations.
Redding said Nevada generally ranks a little below the midpoint in tuition costs compared to other public universities in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).
According to the NSHE tuition and fees report, Nevada ranked seventh out of 16 WICHE schools for average resident undergraduate tuition and fees (based on 30 credits) at $7,103 per year for the 2016-2017 academic year. Wyoming ranked first at $5,055, and the University of California was last at $13,548. Nevada ranked third for lowest average graduate tuition, only behind Utah and New Mexico.
The March 1-2 meeting where the Board of Regents will consider the tuition and fee increase will be held at the Desert Research Institute in Las Vegas. Video or telephone conference connection will be available at the NSHE System Office in Reno.
Ryan Suppe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @salsuppe.