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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Regents up dorm rates, look at fees”

    TEMPE ð- The Arizona Board of Regents handed down their first decision to help close the budget shortfall – increasing the rates of some residence halls by up to almost 11 percent.

    At yesterday’s meeting at Arizona State University, the board separated the UA residence halls into three price tiers, as opposed to their traditional five, and ranked them based on factors such as popularity and amenities.

    Tier one halls have the highest rate increase at close to 11 percent, which equals about an extra $584 per year.

    Halls affected include Arizona-Sonora, Coronado, Villa Del Puente, Pueblo de la Cienega, Colonia de la Paz, Pima House, and Posada San Pedro residence halls.

    The least expensive halls, which include Coconino, Navajo-Pinal and Yavapai will experience a little over a 1 percent increase, about $53.

    Hopi Lodge will also remain off of the chopping block for now, the regents decided. It was previously scheduled for demolition.

    “”It’s still there, same name, same hall,”” said Vice President of Student Affairs Melissa M. Vito. “”We saved Hopi … for now.””

    Vito said it is important to maintain student’s ability to live on campus.

    “”Living in a hall for one year makes such a difference,”” she said. “”The data is amazing and it’s disproportionately better for minority students.””

    Fees likely to increase next year

    UA President Robert Shelton addressed the board on behalf of the UA, stating that the university currently needs to find $15 million due to budget cuts. That number is expected to increase over $50 million during the 2010 fiscal year.

    “”The regents are wrestling with a new era of how you fund quality higher education in Arizona,”” Shelton said. “”The state is no longer able to, or willing to, invest in higher education as they have in the past.””

    One option, he said, is capturing as many dollars as possible from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

    “”Those funds can be used to stretch out the timeline over which we have to stabilize our core funding but they will not absolve us from making difficult or timely decisions,”” Shelton said. “”In my perspective the time is now.””

    Another solution is raising student fees, he said.

    “”It’s a question of balance,”” Shelton said. “”The balance between what the state is willing to invest in the universities and what we have to ask the students and their families to invest.””

    Proposed fees include increased utility fees, mandated employee expenses, student health and wellness, academic advising, information technology and library fees.

    “”How much of this responsibility do we know will be placed on the students and their families?”” Shelton said. “”And how much of it can we deal with through alternative forms?””

    These fees are things that the state is unable or refuses to support, Shelton said.

    “”We have to find ways to keep up the quality and keep up the accessibility,”” he said. “”Part of that is going to be higher tuition and fees coupled with financial aid.””

    Regents Vice President Ernest Calderón said there is a chance that these fees will be decreased or rejected.

    “”Clearly we have to come up with money some place,”” he said. “”The question is at some point, when you charge too many fees, you lose the students interest in the course or the major or the university.””

    He also said there could be other proposals, putting the financial burden further on the backs of the students.

    “”Clearly the students are going to be carrying more of a burden next year,”” he said.

    2020 Vision approved

    The Regents also approved a long-term strategic plan for the Arizona university system.

    The plan has several missions that include developing a more educated workforce as well as increasing degrees to make the state nationally competitive by the year 2020.

    “”Were getting a game plan together for the system,”” said Regent Robert Bulla. “”Regardless of what happens in the economy were going to be able to plan for meeting the future needs of the state of Arizona for higher education.””

    Based on the model, if the number of Bachelor’s degrees awarded doubled by the year 2020, the UA would barely be above the national average, Bulla said.

    “”This was sort of the umbrella overview with goals set,”” he said. “”Before, we never had a real handle on where we are, much less on where we want to go.””

    Shelton also said during the meeting that the UA will serve over 10,000 new students by the year 2020 through partnerships with various community colleges in the area.

    “”What we’re doing is talking to communities and offering degrees that are important to those communities,”” Shelton said. “”This way it will provide jobs that are there and readily available for the communities and it will serve the communities.””

    Students’ costs will be dramatically reduced because more community resources and investments will be shared, and also the rate of transfers between community college and the UA will increase, he said.

    “”How do we serve the state to increase our (enrollment),”” Shelton said. “”The answer is you need to have partners.””

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