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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA’s rainy-day fund will help curb costs next year

The use of reserves to subsidize tuition increases will grant the UA more time to deal with state budget cuts, according to UA President Robert Shelton.

The Arizona Board of Regents approved a $1,500 increase to undergraduate resident tuition at its meeting on April 7, raising tuition to $9,114 for next year. The decision was made with the amendment that each affected student will receive a $750 rebate funded by more than $16 million of the UA’s reserve funds.

The tuition increases were made following a $198 million cut in state funding to the university system, $78 million of which was attributed to the UA.  

The use of reserves to pay for the tuition rebate sends a positive message to students and families, Shelton said. He said the rebate will help them cope with increases for next year.

“”The rebate certainly is a one-time event,”” Shelton said. “”It’s money that, once it’s spent, is gone.””

The UA has $271 million in cash reserves, though most of the money is committed to other purposes, said Regents Chair Anne Mariucci at the meeting. The UA can use its uncommitted reserves for the rebate due to conservative budgeting in the past, Shelton said.

“”We had set aside those reserves exactly for that purpose,”” he said. “”The regents asked us to do that.””

Shelton said he could not speculate about additional tuition increases for following years because it will largely depend on state budget cuts. This year’s use of reserves will allow the university to copensate for the current cut over multiple years, he said.

“”We have to solve that problem,”” Shelton said. “”The use of reserves doesn’t solve that problem. It buys us time.””

The tuition rebate is a victory for students, said Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Emily Fritze.

“”(I was) happy they backed down from the full proposal,”” she said. “”It shows some type of commitment to minimizing cost increases on UA students and family.””

The UA must continue to plan for the future and be cautious when using reserves, Fritze said. She said the approved proposal strikes a good balance between minimizing the impact on students and planning for potential budget cuts in the future.

“”Unfortunately, I really don’t think the state will stabilize funding just yet,”” Fritze said.  

Elma Delic, board chair of the Arizona Students’ Association, said the careful use of reserves is important, considering the full tuition increase was approved at Arizona State University because the university did not have sufficient reserve funds.

“”At the same time, it definitely helps students when it comes to the tuition increases,”” she said.

The amount of the rebate is too large considering mandatory fees approved by the board for all students will have a significant effect on graduate students, said Graduate and Professional Student Council President Emily Connally.

“”I was incredibly disappointed by the fact they’re giving a break to undergraduate residents and not instructors,”” she said. “”I thought it was really political.””

Connally said the use of reserves could decrease the quality of education and showed poor planning for the future.

“”It shouldn’t be the case that the universities are asked to suck it up when they’ve made so many cuts already,”” she said. “”To me, it’s not a victory for anyone to look at short-term gain.””

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