Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Raising college tuition in Nevada?

The Las Vegas Sun’s capital reporter, Cy Ryan, reported about a meeting between the governor and representatives from Nevada higher education today.

According to Ryan’s story, (read here) “Gov. Jim Gibbons, University Regent Chairman Michael Wixom, Chancellor Jim Rogers and Daniel Klaich, a vice president in the system, met for about 30 minutes today in Carson City to discuss the upcoming budget.”

First of all, 30 minutes isn’t enough time to even suggest anything, much less agree to anything. However, I’m sure it felt like a 12-hour day for the governor having to sit with his chief nemesis, Chancellor Jim Rogers.

Nevada is at the bottom, rated 47 of 51 when it comes the number of people who have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher — less than 25 percent of Nevadans.

One of the subjects Rogers and Gibbons discussed was raising college tuitions to help fill the gap.

Higher tuition in Nevada would put a college education even farther out of reach for Nevada families. I predict that enrollments already will drop starting in January due to economic hardship. Raising tuition right now would only exacerbate the problem.

Many families may be reconsidering college options for their kids, such as enrolling in the community college for two years to complete transferable undergraduate courses for less tuition before enrolling them in UNR or UNLV.

Many Nevadans are concerned about losing their jobs, owing more for their homes than the market value and keeping up with the enormous cost increases of groceries.

According to a poll commissioned by the Reno Gazette-Journal and KTVN-TV Channel 2, 26 percent of respondents said they were “afraid” or “very afraid” for their jobs; with 37 percent “not too” afraid and 21 percent “not at all” afraid. For the RGJ story by Bill O’Driscoll Click here KTVN Channel 2, Click here.

Nevada is ground zero for the mortgage crisis and now foreclosure crisis. Many parents were counting on second mortgages to fulfill college promises to their children. Those promises are now impossible to meet for many parents who are now faced with losing the roof over their heads. The dreams of getting a college education are quickly vanishing for many young people.

I don’t know about your household, but our grocery bill has nearly doubled in the last two years, even with fewer kids at home. It’s even more of a hardship for the adult student who is working a full-time job and going to school full- or part-time in an effort to better their quality of life and improve their employment opportunities. Oftentimes they are also raising a family at the same time.

Education is often the key to opening the gate leading out of poverty or into financial independence.

If the governor and the board of regents raise college tuition now, they may as well change the locks on the gate of opportunity for many Nevadans young and old.