The Arizona Board of Regents will hold tuition hearings across the state tonight as it prepares to set tuition rates for the next academic year.
The hearings are set to occur simultaneously on the campuses of each of the state universities — the UA, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University — at 5 p.m. The UA hearing will take place at Gallagher Theater. A separate hearing will also occur at UA South in Sierra Vista.
The hearings are meant to provide a public forum for feedback on the tuition proposals for each of the universities, according to Sarah Harper, director of public affairs for the board of regents.
“Anybody in the community can attend these meetings,” Harper said. “That’s why they’re held statewide.”
The state universities submitted their tuition proposals for the 2014-2015 academic year to the regents on March 14. The UA requested a tuition increase of 2 percent for in-state students and 5 percent for out-of-state students.
Regents will be in attendance at each of the meetings across the state, according to Heather Lukach, administrator of presidential events and visitor services. Rick Myers, chairman of the board of regents, Regent Dennis DeConcini, Student Regent Valerie Hanna and UA President Ann Weaver Hart will be present for the hearing in Gallagher Theater, Lukach said.
These public hearings on the tuition proposals occur every year in conjunction with the tuition setting process, according to Harper. She said the previous hearings have been successful in giving students, families and members of the community the opportunity to give their input on what the universities have proposed.
Tuition rates will be set by the board of regents at its next meeting, on April 3 at the UA. Normally, public comments occur at the beginning of these meetings, but public comments regarding tuition are solicited separately from meetings where tuition rates are set, Harper said.
For those unable to attend the hearings in person, comments can also be submitted online, to be shared before the board of regents meeting next week. The hearings will also be streamed over the Internet, Harper said.
In the proposal Hart submitted to the board, she said the reason for the higher raise in out-of-state tuition is to match the rates of the UA’s peer in-state institutions.
“The increase in nonresident tuition is also predicated on the lack of additional support from the state to cover mandatory cost increases,” Hart said.
The UA also proposed a guaranteed tuition plan, modeled after NAU’s PLEDGE plan, which would give students the same tuition rate for four years. The model would be mandatory for incoming students and transfer students and optional for current students.
“The UA is working to create a means to stabilize tuition costs for [students],” Hart said.