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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Rising tuition would be less of an issue with fixed rates

    As an out-of-state student from interior Alaska, there isn’t much that would make me give up the beautiful weather at the UA. But that great weather comes at a price, and over the past three years, my already pricey non-resident tuition costs have risen and by the looks of it, this year isn’t any different.

    Since I started school at the UA, non-resident tuition has increased by about $3,967.

    At the Arizona Board of Regents tuition hearing last week, UA President Ann Weaver Hart stressed that the tuition raises are crucial in maintaining the quality of education, which I understand. Like everyone else here, I’m trying to get my money’s worth and that means paying for qualified teachers and top of the line teaching equipment.

    But even the miniscule 3 percent raise that will be voted on this week by the board adds roughly an additional $842 to out-of-state tuition, which is more than double the increase for residential students.

    Students deserve a break, and other alternative efforts for budget reform need to be examined. Places like NAU, University of Texas at Dallas, and the University of Kansas have created fixed-rate tuition to help with affordability.

    What this means is when a student enrolls their freshman year, what they pay in tuition remains the same for the next three years.

    Making the decision of which college to attend is scary because the price tag on the next four years isn’t exactly consistent during a state of economic uncertainty. Tuition could be the tipping point in choosing not to attend a university.

    While financial-based scholarships, like the Pell Grant, can change based on tuition hikes, merit-based scholarships, like the Wildcat Excellence Award, do not. For some people, merit-based scholarships make a difference in being able to afford an education. If both tuition and financial aid were the same each year, the annual expenses would be predictable, making it easier for students and their parents to budget enough money to pay for education.

    Fixed-rate tuition could also raise the graduation rate because fewer people would have to drop out because of an unforeseen rise in tuition.

    But it definitely shouldn’t be mandatory. Unlike private schools, public universities need additional wiggle room in order to plan ahead for more budget cuts to state and federal funding for education, cuts that aren’t under their control. Plus, the fixed tuition lasts for only four years so if for some reason, you have to stay beyond four, you would then have to pay “regular” tuition.

    Fixed tuition would be a great option for both in-state and out-of-state students. Between paying for housing, transportation and food, college isn’t cheap.

    Universities should be working to make education as affordable as possible, and part of that comes with giving families the tools to accurately budget their education expenses. The best way to accomplish this would be through a fixed tuition plan.

    — Michelle Cook is a journalism senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu, or on Twitter via @mcook1

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