Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

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Skyrocketing cost of tuition has students in debt $1 trillion nationally, and UNLV is no different

The cost for a Nevada high school graduate to attend college in-state has increased nearly every year for more than a decade.

At UNLV — the Silver State’s largest university — tuition has risen 3 to 13 percent each year from 2002 to 2012. During that time, the cost of attending class at UNLV has more than doubled, from $2,370 a year in 2002 to $5,740 in 2012.

UNLV isn’t alone in raising tuition. Across the country, tuition hikes have outpaced the rate of inflation, causing student loan debt to skyrocket. Nationally, college graduates owe more than $1 trillion dollars, surpassing the nation’s credit card debt.

This year, UNLV’s tuition rates have remained constant: $191.50 per credit, or about $5,745 per year. It is the first time UNLV’s tuition has held steady since at least 2002.

However, this respite will likely be brief. Nevada’s higher education leaders are considering raising tuition and fees across the state.

If approved by Nevada’s Board of Regents in June, UNLV’s tuition will go up by 4 percent in each of the next four years. That means by the 2018-19 academic year, UNLV students will be paying $224 per credit, or about $6,720 in tuition a year.

Nevada’s higher education Chancellor Dan Klaich argued last week that these tuition increases are necessary to meet the rising cost of and demand for higher education. At UNLV, outgoing President Neal Smatresk called for “modest tuition increases” to help the aspirational university become a top-tier research institution that can drive Southern Nevada’s economy out of the recession.

Although tuition has increased by 142 percent since 2002, officials argue UNLV students are still getting a great bargain for their college degrees.

When it comes to tuition and fees, UNLV ranks near the middle among 16 colleges and universities that make up the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

On average, UNLV students spend about $6,587 a year to attend class. Nationally, tuition for in-state students attending a four-year public university was $8,655 on average last year, a 5 percent jump from the previous year, according to the College Board.

Still, students are upset over the rising cost of attending UNLV. Tuition and fees make up a portion of the overall “sticker price” of attending college, which includes costs of housing and textbooks.

Nevada’s university officials hope to put 10 to 15 percent of the tuition revenue back into student aid over the next decade. Last year, the state disbursed nearly $75 million in scholarship and financial aid to Nevada students.

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