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Tuition programs help more Nevada students go to collage

by Brian Krolicki

Over the last 20 years, the costs associated with a college education nationwide have risen more than 300 percent at public 4-year universities and 405 percent at community colleges. Unfortunately, personal income levels have not kept pace, increasing only 82 percent over the same time period. By the time a newborn is of college age, tuition costs are expected to triple.

These sobering facts have compelled the creation of two new higher education programs in the State of Nevada – the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program and the Millennium Scholarship Program. Both programs are administered by the State Treasurer’s Office and will be operated so that they are completely complementary with one another.

Established in 1997, the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program allows parents to actually prepay their children’s future tuition based on today’s costs. Participants pay either a lump sum, monthly payments over five years or monthly payments until their child graduates from high school, and the payment will never change regardless of future tuition increases.

The monies are paid into a trust fund managed by the State Treasurer’s Office and are pooled and invested to ensure that future in-state tuition costs are covered for all of the children participating in the program. However, students may attend any accredited university, college or community college in the nation and the program will pay the same amount it would pay to a Nevada school.

The Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program is safe, affordable and flexible. Earnings are tax deferred until payments are made to the colleges and are then taxed at the child’s lower rate. Beneficiaries have up to 10 years from the time they graduate from high school (or until age 30) to begin using the benefits, or it is possible to transfer the program’s contract to another child. If a child earns a full scholarship, if they do not go to school or if the contract simply must be canceled, a full refund of initial payments and interest will be granted.

Earlier this year, Gov. Kenny Guinn unveiled the Millennium Scholarship Program. This program provides Nevada’s high school students with a “B” grade point average or better up to $10,000 in scholarship money for higher education in the University and Community College System of Nevada. These monies can be used in a number of ways, including tuition, room and board, course registration fees, books and other educational related expenses.

The current cost for a full-time university student in Nevada is approximately $7,500 per semester, including housing and a meal plan. So, while the Millennium Scholarship is clearly a tremendous financial benefit, it’s not likely going to pay for all of a student’s expenses.

That is why the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program is such an important proactive option for families to consider, and the reason why I encourage all parents and grandparents to make the financial commitment today to secure affordable higher education for their children tomorrow.

The Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program 1999 enrollment deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 16. For more information and a free booklet, call (888) 477-2667, or visit the Web site at http://prepaid-tuition.state.nv.us.

Brian krolicki is treasurer of the state of Nevada.