Although the UA is recommending a $0 tuition increase from 2012 to 2013 for all continuing undergraduate resident students, they will still have to pay $750 due to the expiration of a financial aid award.
Last April, the Arizona Board of Regents raised tuition by $1,500 for all resident undergraduate students. But after taking into account the UA’s $271 million cash reserve, the board decided to offset the increase by giving these students a $750 financial aid award. The award is set to expire at the end of this semester.
On Friday, UA President Eugene Sander announced his tuition proposal, which recommended a $0 tuition increase for continuing undergraduate resident students for the 2012-2013 school year. For incoming undergraduate resident students, all resident graduate students and all non-resident students, Sander proposed a tuition increase of less than 3 percent. No new mandatory fees are being recommended for any student.
The tuition proposal shows a commitment to returning undergraduate students, said James Allen, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.
“These students (returning undergraduates) have suffered the most,” he said. “They have seen tuition increase right in front of their eyes.”
Part of the reason the UA is recommending this proposal is because the university had the second highest tuition increase in the nation last year, Allen said. Although he said he “appreciates” the UA’s commitment to increasing access, ASUA is pursuing a 0 percent tuition increase for all students, not just continuing undergraduates.
“Some students will be getting a 0 percent increase, but I think we can do better,” he said.
Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 would allocate $30 million to higher education in Arizona — about $15 million would go to course redesign and the other $15 million to performance funding, which links state funding with gains in certain performance metrics like productivity and research. This increase in state funding and “starting the (school) year on a different tone” is what helped make the $0 tuition increase recommendation possible for continuing undergraduates, according to Dan Fitzgibbon, board chair of the Arizona Students’ Association.
Members of the association, who work to ensure that higher education in Arizona is affordable and accessible, have been in talks with Sander, administrators and legislators about keeping tuition low early on, Fitzgibbon said. Although Fitzgibbon said he is “somewhat pleased” that the state is starting to fund higher education again, the proposed tuition increase for graduate students is unfair because they tend to graduate with twice as much debt as an undergraduate student.
“I admire the spirit of the proposal, but as I understand it now, all students are going to be paying more money next year,” he added.
For other students, a modest increase may be understandable to keep the quality of education and resources for UA students. Edward Beck, chief of staff of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, said the 3 percent proposed increase for graduate students could make sense from a fiscal standpoint due to previous budget cuts. It could also allocate more funds to the UA’s medical school in Phoenix and increase graduate student financial aid assistance.
“In order to retain the level of education the university has, it is necessary to have some sort of tuition increase,” he said. “I don’t think the increase will deter potential students from attending (the UA), the level of education decreasing would deter them.”
The biggest reason Beck said he is reluctant to speak out against the proposed increase is because House Bill 2675, a proposed piece of legislation that would require full-time students attending Arizona universities to pay $2,000 out of pocket without financial assistance from any entity affiliated with an in-state university, has been amended to exclude graduate students. Still, Beck said the council will continue to fight against the bill, as he has gone to the state Capitol multiple times to lobby against it.
The UA is also examining ways to increase tuition in the College of Medicine through a “comparable, measured approach” as well as selected differential tuition, program fees and special class fees, according to the proposal.
The regents will conduct a public hearing regarding the tuition proposal from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 28 in the Gallagher Theater. They will also vote on the tuition proposals from the three in-state universities at their meeting in April.
Sound fiscal planning and greater operating efficiencies on the UA’s part and Brewer’s commitment to begin reinvesting in higher education have resulted in zero to very modest proposed increases by the university presidents, said Bob McLendon, chair of the Arizona Board of Regents.
“The 0 percent increase at the UA is indeed good news for Arizona students and families,” he added.
Under the 2012-13 proposal, total tuition and mandatory fees would be as follows:
- Undergraduate resident (continuing student): $10,035 (No increase over 2011-12)
- Undergraduate resident (entering fall 2012): $10,308 (a 2.7 percent change over 2011-12)
- Undergraduate non-resident: $26,231 (2.9 percent increase)
- Graduate resident: $11,122 (2.7 percent increase)
- Graduate non-resident: $26,533 (2.9 percent increase)
- Undergraduate resident (continuing student): $7,941 (no increase)
- Undergraduate resident (entering fall 2012): $8,164 (2.8 percent increase)
- Undergraduate non-resident: $25,808 (2.9 percent increase)
- Graduate resident: $10,390 (2.9 percent increase)
- Graduate non-resident: $26,110 (2.9 percent increase)