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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Regents’ decision to affect tuition

    The Arizona Board of Regents meeting tomorrow will impact the lives of students who attend all three of Arizona’s state universities.

    Beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center’s North Ballroom, the meeting tomorrow will determine if the three state university presidents’ request for a one-year exception to the Regents policy that limits tuition to the bottom one-third of peer universities will be allowed to go into effect.

    The proposed “”economic surcharges”” would raise UA tuition $1,100. Northern Arizona University’s tuition would be raised $350 and Arizona State University’s tuition would be raised $1,200. These charges will come on top of the $545 tuition increase the UA already passed in December.

    The Board will also be asked to approve the University of Arizona’s request for program fee proposals and differential tuition increases in the colleges of Medicine and Nursing for the 2009-2010 academic year.

    “”Nobody wants to pay more, so I certainly understand that,”” University of Arizona President Robert Shelton said. “”I would just go back to the position that we have had since December and certainly in January. What we are trying to do is find the right balance between finding the right cuts, which harm the quality of the education and generating some additional revenues.””

    According to Shelton, if the surcharges pass, the next cuts the administration plans to make will generate about $25 million for the school. He says that the university has to consider the amount of money from the surcharges, the possible extra cuts from the state in 2010 and the federal stimulus money the university will receive.

    “”If the charges don’t pass, and that is always a possibility, we are just going to have to make deeper cuts,”” Shelton said. “”It is not going to be simple and it is not going to be painless. If you don’t have the money, you don’t have the money. Right now we are looking at making some significant cuts anyway even if we get the surcharge. A lot also depends on what kind of budget cuts the state gives us for 2010.””

    Shelton said the tuition surcharges are important because they are not just one-time money, like the federal stimulus money. He said regardless of the Regents action Thursday, more cuts will likely be made. However, the severity of those cuts will be greatly affected by the board’s decision.

    “”I think that this is a very hard time. I understand why people are worried about paying more money. We are trying to balance getting a quality degree with as affordable an education as possible,”” Shelton said.

    UA student regent David Martinez said that he was opposed to the exemption of the board of regents policy. Martinez said that this meeting will be a “”frank conversation”” between the university presidents and the board members.

    “”I oppose increasing tuition mid-cycle, which is what is happening. I have become infamously known for working towards compromise and I approach this meeting in that same manner,”” he said.

    Martinez blames the legislature’s lack of investment in higher education for the crisis the universities are facing.

    He said that in the long term, he is looking to protect the affordability, accessibility and predictability of the cost of education at all of the universities. Martinez said the presidents promised that to the students, and he is going to work to make sure the promise is kept.

    “”We will be talking more about how we are dealing with the budget cuts and preparing for fiscal year 2010 and how we are really trying to take a pro-active role in getting the state of Arizona back on track and return our economy to a prospering one,”” Martinez said.

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