More Out-Of-State Tuition Overcharges Found

University of Nevada, Reno
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Nevada university system officials have found another discrepancy in tuition bills for in-state residents, prompting a review of whether more students could qualify for refunds.

Chancellor Jane Nichols said Wednesday she was advising the state's seven college and university campuses to adhere to a state law allowing students to pay in-state tuition if they are legally dependent on parents who are Nevada residents.

State law says those students can be classified immediately as residents, while board policy had said students must wait a year. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can amount to about $2,300 per semester at the community college and $4,300 per semester at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The discrepancy was made public the same day the state's campuses began contacting students about possible refunds concerning another board policy that for almost a decade had contradicted state law.

Since 1995, the University and Community College System of Nevada has required a one-year term of residency before students entering college could qualify for the cheaper rate. But recently it was revealed state law only requires a six-month residency.

"Not only were we not in compliance with the first part of the law, we weren't even in compliance with this part, either," said Regent Steve Sisolak. "It's going to open up a lot more people who are eligible for in-state tuition. A whole lot more people."

No estimate was immediately available of the number of students who might be affected by the newly discovered discrepancy, Nichols said.

The Board of Regents voted last month to rewrite its in-state tuition policy to adhere with state law. But instead of making the policy retroactive to 1995, the board decided to limit it only to those who entered one of the state's colleges or universities during the 2003-2004 academic year.

The regents ordered their lawyers to investigate whether they can offer refunds back to 1995.

Staff members estimated about 667 students would be affected this year by the policy change. If regents decide to make the policy retroactive to 1995, it could affect an estimated 6,000 students and cost the system $4.6 million in refunds.