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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Editorial: Tuition increases are no surprise

Telling people, “”I’m poor and debt is scary”” never gets old, no matter how many times you say it. Tuition increases, however, do.

Maybe it’s because, no matter how many times it happens, the panic that springs up in you when you hear the words “”tuition hike”” feels fresh and raw, as if instead of happening for the last few years, this tuition increase business is entirely new. Of course, in some ways it is; next year, combined in-state tuition and fees could exceed $10,000 for the first time ever if the Arizona Board of Regents accepts the UA’s proposal. This proposal, announced on Friday, would raise in-state undergraduate tuition by $1,500. Out-of-state tuition would go up by $600, and student fees would increase by $300.

As students, we have to understand that the budget crisis is an unfortunate reality. When Gov. Jan Brewer proposes a $67 million budget cut to the UA, and the state Senate outdoes her with a proposed $92 million cut, the university has to find somewhere to offset the loss. That’s just logic.

We also understand that we are not the only people scrambling for a plan in case the regents accept the UA’s proposals. Brewer proposed a combined $170 million cut to all three state universities, and the Senate proposed cutting an additional $65 million, bringing the cut to higher education funding up to $235 million. All three of the state’s universities will have to take a hit.

So we haven’t been tapped for special treatment. We’re not unique. But we’re still poor and debt is still scary.

UA President Robert Shelton affirmed the university’s commitment to financial aid, but also said the UA was working to cut $39 million from its budget in addition to tuition and fee increases. The proposed tuition hike would raise only $22 million more in revenue, and the UA would have to continue to offset costs elsewhere. This will be done through staff reductions and the consolidation or elimination of programs, Shelton said. But how much more can other areas of the budget take? In an article on March 19, Shelton told the Arizona Daily Star that, as a last resort, the UA could trim financial aid.

That possibility comes on top of last week, when, by a vote of 20 to 10, the Arizona Senate voted to permanently end state investments in need-based financial aid. According to the Arizona Republic, 52 percent of undergraduate students in the state graduated with debt last year. The average amount of debt was $19,946. Inevitably, those numbers will continue to skyrocket upward. Arizona’s college students can’t expect a miracle. But when the regents decide on tuition proposals, we should hope they realize that it’s getting old.

— Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Kristina Bui, Ken Contrata, Michelle A. Monroe and Heather Price-Wright. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

 

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