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ABOR to vote on tuition proposals, asks for community input at public hearings

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Undergraduate tuition and fees have increased an average of 10 to 15 percent in the past five years. President Ann Weaver Hart is proposing a 3 percent increase for the 2013-14 school year.

The Arizona Board of Regents will vote April 4 on a UA proposal to increase the 2013-2014 tuition by $300 for Arizona residents and $800 for out-of-state students.

Library fees may also see an increase of $80, based on UA President Ann Weaver Hart’s proposal released Friday. With the exception of a tuition freeze for in-state tuition and a 3 percent out-of-state tuition increase in the 2012-13 school year, the proposed hike is the lowest in the past five years.

Tuition at the UA has increased an average of 10 to 15 percent per year since 2008, mostly because of significant budget cuts from the state, according to Andrew Comrie, UA provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Prior to voting, the regents will hold tuition proposal hearings at the UA Main Campus and UA Sierra Vista as well as all four Arizona State University campuses and Northern Arizona University‘s Flagstaff and Yuma campuses. The regents will link the meetings online and listen to community input before deciding how to vote on the three universities’ proposals.

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“So, it’s a chance to reach out and very specifically the only purpose for that meeting is to listen to public comment,” said Rick Myers, chairman of the board.

UA administrators met with leaders from the Associated Students of the University of Arizona to discuss the proposal and get a student perspective on tuition. ASUA President Katy Murray said the UA administration sought to increase tuition by 5 percent while ASUA leaders were expecting a 1 to 2 percent increase. The administration reached a compromise with ASUA for a 3 percent increase.

“We as students can’t afford to carry much more on our backs than that,” Murray said. “Especially when you look at all the other … costs that go into your total cost of attendance.”

Murray also said while she supports the tuition increase, she is against any fee increases included in the proposal.

Zachary Brooks, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, said the council was also hoping for a lower increase. However, after seeing how much the state budget has been cut in the past five years, he said they support the proposed 3 percent increase.

“I have a lot of faith in administration,” Brooks said. “Once you see the numbers for yourself, it’s hard not to see why some increase is needed.”

Administration took into account gradually rising costs of university services such as utilities, as well as investments needed to repair buildings when proposing new tuition rates.
Investment in student and faculty recruitment and retention are also necessary to maintain a quality education system, Comrie added.

The tuition hikes were also made assuming the state budget proposal doesn’t drastically change between now and around summertime, when legislators vote on it. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has proposed an increase of about $11 million to be allocated to the UA in this year’s budget. While $8 million would go toward the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix, Comrie said the additional $3 million would help with UA Main Campus’ expenses.

“If that’s [the UA’s state budget] substantially less then of course that impacts … the quality of what we can offer,” Comrie said. “We have to make compromises if the budget doesn’t turn out the way we expect.”

Myers said while seeing the board of regents reject or make changes to tuition proposals is not unheard of, this year’s proposals include justifiable background information from the university presidents.

“I do think the presidents are coming in and they’re trying to be prudent in what they’re asking for,” Myers said.

If you go:

Tuition proposal hearing
Where: Student Union Memorial Center’s Gallagher Theatre
When: March 27, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.


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