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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    AZ legislators fail to keep public universities affordable, students bear financial burden

    Student loan debt, rising tuition prices and the education bubble. All of these terms have been brought up as part of a national discussion, especially as Congress plans to develop a federal student loan plan.

    But while all the politicians are talking about how raising tuition could affect students, we’re the ones actually feeling it.

    After a tuition freeze for in-state students and only a 3 percent increase for out-of-state students last year, combined with a decrease in state support, it was only logical to expect that tuition for the UA was going to increase for the 2013-14 school year.

    But from 2001 to 2010, out-of-state tuition increased by 94 percent and the in-state tuition increased by 170.59 percent at the UA, based on numbers collected by The Chronicle of Higher Education. That’s more than ASU, UCLA, and most other schools in the country.

    You could attribute the giant leap in tuition to an initial low price in 2001, which wouldn’t be incorrect.

    The UA’s in-state tuition in 2001 was $3,044, which was pretty low for that year compared to plenty of other schools, including the UA’s peer institutions like UCLA, which charged $5,179 for tuition, and the University of Maryland College Park, where tuition was $6,540.

    But just because tuition started out low doesn’t mean that a 170.59 percent increase over a decade should be acceptable. The big reason that tuition has increased so much has been due to a lack of funding from the state.

    In the past five years, from 2008 to 2013, Arizona has seen a 36.6 percent decrease in funding from the state, according to the Grapevine Project, Illinois State University’s journal which publishes an annual compilation of state tax support for public universities. The 2012-2013 version included both state tax and non-tax monies.

    The decrease in funding for public universities by Arizona is the most of any other state in the country.

    If our state were spending more on education than any other state, this could maybe be OK. But we didn’t even fall within the top 20, according to the same Grapevine report.

    In fact, only 28.98 percent of the UA funds were allocated by the state in 2012, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning Support. The rest were from research and development and tuition.

    In 2001, 41.27 percent of the UA’s funds came from the state.

    Arizona legislators haven’t made it a point to support higher education, and we’ve felt the effects.

    If state funding continues to decrease at the current rate, there will come a point when the state contributes so little that it’s inconsequential.

    At the Arizona Board of Regents meeting last Thursday, chairman Rick Myers said access through affordability was the reason for public universities.

    “It’s the job of the state to help subsidize the education so that it’s affordable and accessible to the people of the state,” he said.

    But the state is slacking. If politicians in Arizona truly think that education is the future for this country, then it’s about time that they show it.

    —Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Dan Desrochers, Kristina Bui, K.C. Libman and Sarah Precup. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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