Nevada Higher Education

The price of One Nevada: Higher education edition

Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014 | 2:01 a.m.

One of the most important issues this election is how Nevada will pave the way for a prosperous future. Unfortunately, the state has neglected Clark County, home to nearly 75 percent of the state’s residents. Nowhere is that more clear than in higher education. In his piece below, David Damore, a UNLV political scientist and fellow at the Brookings Institution, explains how the data show Southern Nevada greatly subsidizes higher education in the rest of the state. That leaves the bulk of Nevada’s college students, who attend school in Clark County, at a great disadvantage. This election, Southern Nevada voters need to elect people who will stop the politics that allow this. It’s not about stealing from Northern or rural Nevada, it’s about being fair. — Brian Greenspun


During the 2013 legislative session, the way the state funds its colleges and universities underwent numerous changes. Yet, despite these policy changes, little attention has been devoted to assessing if these reforms delivered the promised fairness.

Last week the Lincy Institute at UNLV released a report that I authored examining what the 2013 higher education funding reforms accomplished, and once again Southern Nevada received the short end of the stick.

Take, for example, what’s called the weighted student credit hour (WSCH), which is the main driver of state support for campuses’ operating budgets. The good news is that, at long last, the state funds UNR and UNLV at the same level.

However, because the funding structure includes a number of institution-specific carve outs and subsidies, some of the two- and four-year schools in Northern and rural Nevada receive more than 50 percent more funding per WSCH than the College of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College.

Although these regional funding inequities are not as great as they once were, the state continues to prioritize the education of some Nevadans because of their geography. Consider this: If all of the special funding was eliminated, the southern schools would receive $25 million more in biennial funding than they do now.

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