Regents to review student fees over the summer
The Arizona Board of Regents announced it will examine how student fees are charged at the three state universities.
The look into student fees will help determine the future of the UA, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University, said Eileen Klein, president of the board of regents.
“This is an effort [to] increase transparency around the fee-setting process,” Klein said, “and to make sure the fees are being used to keep up academic quality.”
This is also an effort to make students’ bills more transparent, Klein said. This fall, the UA is going to introduce a new way for students to view the online statements for their bursar’s accounts. This new format will allow every student accessing their statement online to click on a charge and see why the fee was added.
UA President Ann Weaver Hart, Chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents Rick Myers and Student Regent Valerie Hanna discuss future tuition possibilities at a meeting on March 25. The board of regents will take a closer look at student fees during the summer.
“It can be hard to comprehend what the different charges are for and why, so we are trying to make the billing statements understandable,” Klein said. “I was really happy to see [UA] make that advancement, because we are trying to enhance the transparency in the billing process.”
Klein said that all fees will be evaluated from top to bottom by the board of regents to find greater understanding of what they are for and if they are necessary.
“Fees are important and we want to make sure they have the revenues that they need,” Klein said, “but we want to make sure we aren’t over-extending the use of fees.”
While looking into fees will benefit UA students, Jose Guadalupe Conchas, speaker of the house for the Arizona Students’ Association and a political science senior, said he believes that looking into fees may only serve as a distraction to students.
“Fees may be a lot to pay in some areas,” Conchas said, “but to say that they are going to look at the fees and possibly eliminate or reduce some of them to make it more affordable for students seems to be a diversion or distraction from the tuition increases that they have put on Arizona university students in the past decade.”
Conchas said he believes discussion of the fees should be heavily advertised and held during the school year as opposed to the summer.
“The UA administration and [board of regents] announced that they were going to raise our tuition this year right before students went out of town for spring break, and now they want to review fees over the summer,” Conchas said.
Another UA student spoke out about student fees when the 2.5 percent convenience fee was introduced through an email to students from the Bursar’s Office.
Tiffany Lee, a senior studying nutritional sciences, creative writing and religious studies, said that she thought the convenience fee was ridiculous.
“I felt frustrated and ignored when I got that email because they didn’t even give us an explanation of why that fee was going to be charged,” Lee said.
The email stated that, effective Monday, there would be an additional charge of a 2.5 percent convenience fee for students who paid their bursar’s account with a credit or debit card. With the 2.5 percent convenience fee going into effect, in-state students face an additional charge of $260 per year, while out-of-state students will pay $680 per year.
This inspired Lee to start a petition on Change.org protesting the 2.5 percent convenience fee, which now has almost 7,000 signatures.
“There was nothing being said about why they were doing this or why it would be beneficial,” Lee said. “I just felt it was really unfair for students who are already struggling to afford their tuition.”
Lee said she even reached out to UA President Ann Weaver Hart regarding the fee since her petition gained so much support, but she never heard back from Hart.
Lee said she hopes students refuse to blindly accept new fees imposed by the UA.
“We have the right to question the fees. We can go to different universities,” Lee said. “That puts pressure on the UA to explain why they need to implement these fees or any regulation that directly influences the rights of students.”
Lee said she believes there is a lack of communication between UA students and the administration, and asked for more transparency in the billing process.
“It would be nice if the administration treated us like we were really important in the UA process,” she said, “because we are students.”
—Follow news reporter Adriana Espinosa on Twitter @adri_eee