Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

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Tuition hike would put college education out of reach of many young Nevadans

As a college student attending UNLV, I felt the need to respond to Board of Regents member Jason Geddes’ recent column in the Sun supporting a proposal before the Board of Regents on Friday to hike tuition more than 17 percent over four years for thousands of students attending Nevada’s higher education institutions.

I agree with Geddes when he says that “an educated citizenry contributes to an improved quality of life for all.” It’s been widely established that, generally speaking, college graduates face lower unemployment rates, higher incomes and increased opportunities, even during tough economic times.

But the tuition hikes Geddes is supporting won’t help more Nevadans go to college, find employment and become ready for a modern workforce. Rather, these tuition hikes will put the dream of a college education out of the reach of thousands of Nevadans, especially when the average debt per student tops $21,000 at a time when teenage and young adult unemployment rates in Nevada are among the highest in the nation (with some sources indicating over 30 percent unemployment among these age groups).

Geddes graduated from UNR as an undergraduate in 1990, back when the employment rate was at 3 percent. Twenty-four years later and tuition fees have tripled, along with the unemployment rate. When you factor out education, the unemployment rate is even higher for high school graduates or college students.

Geddes has been on record supporting tuition hikes on college students like me, even arguing that the current round of hikes “don’t go far enough.” But while he calls for “shared sacrifice” from students, the Nevada Legislature has spent years gutting higher education and failing to reform Nevada’s broken higher education funding formula.

When the Legislature fails to revise the funding formula for higher education to fit Nevada’s modern economy, and when the regents vote to raise tuition, there is no shared sacrifice, as students become the only sacrifice.

Nevada’s students sympathize with the tough decisions the regents will soon be making, and we understand that students, too, have a role in funding their education, but we would like to make it clear that we oppose these ill-advised, unwise, and unsound tuition hikes.

Daniel Waqar is public relations direction for the Consolidated Students of UNLV and a junior majoring in history.

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