Column: Regents, students need common ground on graduate student fees
Arizona Board of Regents President Eileen Klein addresses the regents on April 7, 2016 at the UA.
Dear Graduate and Professional Students,
After several weeks of long and in-depth discussions with student leaders from ASUA, UA South and GPSC, the University’s Senior Leadership Team has proposed tuition and fee increases for the 2017-2018 academic year pending ABOR’s final approval. In line with our promise of accountable leadership to you, we wanted to share the proposed increases with you. While the outcome of these discussions may not be what everyone would have hoped for, we believe it was in the best interest of students and our University’s future.
Unfortunately, there is no single solution to fee and tuition increases at this time as a result of low state funding for higher education in Arizona. If the UA is to remain respected among its peers and continue to attract and provide outstanding services to its students, we must be willing to find a common ground. We recently conducted a survey to get a better sense of graduate students’ perspective on mandatory fees. We also made every effort to ensure that every proposed increase is modest, justified, and has direct benefits for graduate students.
There will be a 1% increase in tuition to account for inflation. This will be one of the lowest increase in more than 10 years. Mandatory fees will increase by $301.16 per year for graduate students. Our efforts led to a $110 decrease to the originally proposed fees. Part of this fee increase, $99 total, will go towards the proposed new Bear Down Student Success District project.
The Bear Down Student Success District will reimagine Bear Down Gym, the Main Library, the Science-Engineering Library and the Integrated Learning Center into a unified hub that employs innovative spaces to deliver and blend the UA’s world-class academics, research, student support, and success services seamlessly into the student experience. The District will serve as a foundation for the university’s approach to student achievement, and as an engine for achieving recruitment and retention goals by putting students on the path to collaborate, innovate and graduate from day one (1,2).
Here is a breakdown of the proposed fee increases as they apply to graduate students:
Health and Recreation Fee—$125 Increase:
$40 of this fee increase will be used for debt service for new rec facility north of Speedway, $18 will be used for debt service in relation to the Success District, $29 will be used to fund the increase in operational expenses of campus recreation facilities, programs and services, while $63 will help provide additional counselors and expand Campus Health programs and services. In response to the proposed increase, we asked for the removal of the current Health & Rec summer and winter fees for students. Students enrolled during the previous spring semester will no longer be required to pay the summer fee, which had previously been as high as $50.
Information Technology/Library Fee —$55 Increase:
$27 of this proposed increase is expected to be used for debt service in relation to the Success District. The additional funds will enable the office of the CIO to provide improvements to a variety of technological services, such as providing high-density wireless across campus, and allow the library to expand technology and online services.
Student Service Fee—$70 Increase:
A $70 increase was proposed to the student services fees which currently funds several student programs, including but not limited to, the UA Think Tank, Student Legal Services, Scholarship Universe and some GPSC services such as Travel Grants. $54 of the proposed increase will be used for the Bear Down Student Success District, while the remaining $16 will help meet the growing needs for outstanding student initiatives which have been rejected or partially funded due to insufficient funding.
New $50 Athletic Fee—OPT-OUT:
UA Athletics has introduced a new Athletics Fee that, pending ABOR approval, will be instituted in Fall 2017. The proposed fee is a campus-supported solution to assist Intercollegiate Athletics’ fund urgent infrastructure needs. Our fee survey showed that about 20 percent of graduate students are willing to pay an athletic fee between $1 - $50. However, a majority, 77 percent of respondents, were opposed to any athletics fee. Consequently, we advocated for a $50 Athletic fee with an OPT-OUT option for graduate students in order to accommodate both opinions voiced in the survey. This will allow students opposed to the fee to be refunded. The fee will come with significant benefits for graduate students, including access to EVERY home sporting events aside from Men’s basketball as well as a 50 percent discount on season tickets to all sporting events for immediate family members.
New Graduate Students Fee Guarantee:
As a response to the proposed fee increases, GPSC successfully advocated for a four-year fee freeze/guarantee for all graduate and professional students. Hence, current graduate students will not pay the proposed fee increases, including the proposed Athletic fees, and any increases that occur within the next four years. While incoming students will be assessed the new fee rates, they will also have a 4-year fee guarantee starting from the year of their enrollment. We have also asked for increases in compensation to account for the increase in fees.
We welcome you to attend two events related to tuition and fees setting: The March 28 Tuition Hearing in College of Education building, Room 102 from 5-7p.m. and the ABOR meeting on April 6 and 7 at the University of Arizona.