Free Community College, Is This Happening?

By Jacob Geraldo-Rubi

Tuition expenses can weigh on College of Southern Nevada students, though good news is on the horizon with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s efforts to fund tuition-free community college by 2025.

According to the Nevada System of Higher Education’s website, “Gov. Sisolak has committed $5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars toward exploring how the NSHE community colleges, or other apprentice and training programs can be provided at no cost to Nevadans by 2025.”

Regarding the commitment made by Gov. Sisolak, NSHE noted on its website, “The legislation was proposed with the intent of aligning workforce training and programs offered by community colleges, to ensure that Nevadans are trained and ready to meet current workforce demands.”

Noted on CSN’s website, the 2021 to 2022 school year’s tuition for in-state full-time students is $3,362, including fees. A small uptick to $3,440 is expected the upcoming school year.

College debt is a deterrent for many people pursuing higher education.

Although CSN student Gianna Casarez received financial aid, she knows several people that are unable to pursue a degree due to tuition costs and inability to qualify for financial aid.

“I would love it if CSN was free to all students,” Casarez said. “It would make higher education more accessible, and people would be able to pursue their career without worrying about the cost or putting themselves in debt.”

“Free education to all would be an amazing change,” said CSN student Meia Stuart. “It is very important for everyone to have an equal chance at an education.”

CSN student Sandra Kourik no longer qualifies for financial aid and experienced a financial burden from attending CSN, but she is skeptical about the prospect of free community college education. “At this rate, if college was free for all, taxpayers would certainly have to pay more to compensate.”

Currently, CCSD high-school seniors can apply for an amazing program called Nevada Promise Scholarship that affords award recipients free college.

According to Roberta Palomo, CSN’s Nevada Promise Scholarship coordinator, CSN awarded scholarships to approximately 2300 students during the past four years.

In order to be eligible for the scholarship, students must apply during their senior year of high school then enroll in a Nevada community college and complete orientation. Applicants must also meet community-service requirements and meet with an assigned mentor.

Palomo said, “The Nevada Promise Scholarship is awarded to eligible students that both complete the requirements and have a remaining balance towards their tuition and mandatory fees. Eligible students can receive the scholarship for up to three years or when they graduate, whichever comes first.”  

The Promise Scholarship is an important step to funding college. Another goal of Sisolak is to expand opportunities in the next few years for even more students to attend college for free.

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