LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The federal government is launching several proposals to tackle the student loan debt crisis.

A recent initiative is aimed at lowering the repayment amount that students make.

Nevada State College in Henderson is also trying different things to lessen the debt burden for students.

Nevada State President Dr. DeRionne Pollard visits staff. (Nevada State College)

“For us reducing the cost of education is essential to the state and that’s what Nevada State does,” DeRionne Pollard, the president of Nevada State College, said.

Pollard gave only her second State of the College address on Wednesday morning. She took the helm as president of the institution in 2021.

Her intentions are to help close the economic gap between rich and poor, especially when it comes to access to education.

A welcome reception was held for Nevada State’s new President Dr. DeRionne Pollard at the NSHE headquarters in Las Vegas on Monday, October 18, 2021. (Nevada State College)

“We also do other things to help support students to get to the end of the degree,” Pollard said.

Those other things include scholarship opportunities. Nevada State recently received $1.3 million in federal grants to help first-generation college students obtain doctoral degrees.

80% of Nevada State College students and graduates stay in the area, and there’s a focus in the school on educating the next generation of teachers.

To help achieve that, Nevada State received a $3 million grant from the Clark County School District. It will cover all tuition and fees, after financial aid, for one year for students pursuing a degree in teacher education.

It’s part of an idea, Pollard says, to incentivize students.

“So for us, tightly coupling ourselves with CCSD and being a co-creator of solutions rather than a critic, has been a powerful opportunity for us,” Pollard said.

Students participate in Welcome Week events on the campus of Nevada State on Thursday, August 26, 2021. The LGBTQ, Black, and African American socials take place in the Ballrooms of RSC. (Nevada State College)

Nevada State boasts a high retention rate among first-generation college students. Za’ni Smith is one of those students.

“My father was diagnosed with a chronic illness and over time he was no longer able to work. There have been times throughout my life when my siblings and I had to step up to help at home,” Smith told a crowd during the state of the college address. Pollard introduced her at the end of the speech. 

Pollard said she’ll be working with legislators in Carson City this upcoming session to increase funding. She also wants to change the name of Nevada State College to “Nevada State University.”

47% of all nurses in the state graduated from Nevada State College, according to Pollard, with 75% of them identifying as persons of color.