Finding enough money to pay for college can be stressful. A tuition hike midway through a four-year degree can add another layer of anxiety.
That’s why the Nevada System of Higher Education is considering policies that would offer “guaranteed tuition rates,” ensuring students know before they start exactly how much the full cost of their two- or four-year degree will be. As it stands now, NSHE has only set rates for the current year and the two after that.
“Students across Nevada face dynamic challenges that many other institutions around the country don’t have to deal with,” UNLV student body president Christopher Roys said in a statement. “Students juggling these responsibilities shouldn’t be burdened with unexpected hikes in the cost of education.”
Regents reviewed two different pricing structures at a meeting on Thursday. One, modeled after a policy at the University of Arizona, is called a Tuition Guarantee Program and would set a per-credit rate for an incoming class of students that would not change for four years, in the case of undergraduates.
For example, UNLV undergraduates who start in the fall of 2019 would pay $247.25 per credit for four years. Under the current model, their per-credit fees rise a little each year, from $233 to an estimated $262 per credit.
A second model is called the Predictable Pricing Program and allows for a different rate each year, but the rate must be published four years in advance so a student can see before they enter college what their total bill will be.
That formula calls for increases based on the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI), a national metric that measures inflation in the higher education realm. A student entering UNLV in the fall of 2019 would pay $233 per credit, while the cost of their fourth year would be the prior year’s per-credit price, multiplied by the HEPI rate from four years earlier.
Regents are expected to vote on a plan at their next quarterly board meeting on Feb. 28.
“The Board’s discussion on transparent and predictable pricing is critical to ensuring access for all in Nevada who wish to pursue a college degree or credential,” said board chairman Kevin Page.
Tuition hikes have been a perennial sticking point at Nevada colleges. Over the summer, regents took a closely split vote to raise tuition and fees by 4 percent in the next two school years.
Originally, the recommendation was that system tuition go up 1.8 percent. But Chancellor Thom Reilly said the ultimate rate was based on an assessment of the 2017 HEPI of 3.7 percent, which was the highest jump in the index since 2008.