A tip from a student has alerted state officials of a discrepancy between Nevada law and regent policy concerning residency requirements for in-state tuition.
State law says those who have lived here six months are entitled to in-state tuition, which can mean thousands of dollars in savings each semester. But the regents in 1995 set the residency requirement at 12 months.
The disparity between the law and the regent policy came to light recently when Community College of Southern Nevada student Sara Renteria contacted Regent Steve Sisolak, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday.
The 24-year-old Renteria, who has lived in Nevada longer than six months but less than one year, complained school officials violated state law by requiring her to pay out-of-state tuition.
Sisolak, who was first elected in 1998, wrote a memo to a university system lawyer questioning why the system's schools weren't following state law.
In her written response, assistant general counsel Brooke Neilsen said the 12-month residency requirement was adopted by the Board of Regents at its March 1995 meeting.
Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, who chairs the Legislative Committee on Education, said he expected to raise the issue at an upcoming panel meeting.
"It never ceases to amaze me that many of our educational institutions disregard the laws that we pass," Perkins said.
Sisolak has demanded answers from the university system and said he wants to know how many students might have been overcharged.
Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, said she thinks thousands of students might have been affected.
"Think of how transient our community is and how many kids come in," Giunchigliani said.
At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno, nonresidents pay $4,243 and $4,473, respectively, per semester more than their in-state counterparts.