For the fifth year in a row, the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents may increase tuition at seven institutions in the state of Nevada — this time by nearly 4 percent next year.
This most recent increase comes after NSHE announced in February it planned to raise tuition by 1.8 percent for the 2019-2020 school year. However, the number was changed in March to 3.7 percent, following a similar change to the Higher Education Price Index.
The HEPI formula accounts for expenses such as university programs, utilities, salaries, operating costs and more, and determines the price of tuition and fees needed to keep the university running as-is based on the increase in inflation. The number is sent to the Board of Regents by a national nonprofit, the Commonfund Institute.
Even though the original number given to the Board of Regents increased in a matter of months, Washoe County Regent Jason Geddes said the increase is necessary.
“The 1.8 [percent] was based on the Higher Education Price Index, which said what they thought inflation would be, and the new number that just came out last month is that it is 3.7 percent, is actually the inflation index,” said Geddes. “A 3.7 percent increase would keep it up with inflation, but not provide anything extra for student success.”
ASUN President-elect Hannah Jackson says the change comes as a surprise to the student government.
“At the time of the committee meeting, the 2016 HEPI index was a 1.8 percent, which informed the recommendation,” said Jackson. “However, the recently released HEPI index for 2017 is a 3.7 percent, which begs the question of what the ‘most recent’ Higher Education Price Index consists of — whether it be the one used in committee or the recent report that just came out. […] We will be attending the Board of Regents meeting to advocate on behalf of our students and to ultimately ensure that they are following their policies regarding tuition and fee increases.”
Whether this increase will actually happen is still to be determined. The Board of Regents can either accept the 3.7 percent increase, reject the number entirely and continue on as-is, or they can vote to approve an increase higher than 3.7.
Geddes said if the fee does not increase, the students could suffer as a result.
“[The university] would have to look to pull money out of other programs to keep up with inflation.”
Although the Board of Regents approves the increase, they do not determine where the money is actually spent.
“Here, the university would determine how that fee increase would be used at the university, and in that process, all the stakeholders of the campus get a say in it.”
In June 2014, the Board of Regents approved a 4 percent increase for four years at all NSHE institutions. At the time, Dan Klaich, chancellor of NSHE, said it was to “improve our student services and classroom instruction.”
The 2018-2019 school year will be the last year of this 4 percent increase. Geddes recommended the Board continue with the 4 percent increase — even when the HEPI was at 1.8 percent.
“If you look at the buying power of what the tuition fees are, we did the four years at 4 percent to offset all the loss of state funds and focused that money into student programs and into student success programs that will help with all the campuses moving forward,” Geddes said.
If the tuition and fee increases are approved, Nevada residents would pay $8,170 in 2019-2020 and $8,472 in 2020-2021, compared to the $7,509 paid in 2017-2018. Non-resident students would pay $22,775 in 2019-2020 and $23,617 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.
The rising cost of living has been a main concern among students at the university, especially as an area housing crunch pushes rents up near an $1100 per month average and vacancy rates down to near 2 percent.
That’s in addition to an announcement that the university will raise parking permit fees next year. The price will increase 17 to 43 percent depending on the parking zone. The revenue will be used to build a parking garage at the south end of campus and pay for PackTransit.
To avoid surprising students every two years with a new number, the Board of Regents is in talks to implement a formula that would tell incoming freshmen what their tuition will be during their time at the university.
“If you came in, you would know what it is for four straight years what your tuition would be, and then each year they would reset based on the incoming freshmen,” Geddes said.
The Board of Regents’ final vote on the increase will be in June. Geddes expects they will at least approve the 3.7 increase.
“I would expect it to come forward,” Geddes said.
Madeline Purdue can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @madelinepurdue.