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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Differential tuition up for vote

    The meaning of affordable tuition will change today if regents approve guidelines that regulate how a college or program can raise a student’s tuition above the standard rate.

    The proposed changes would let individual colleges and schools on campus raise tuition above the standard university rate for students in more costly majors, as long as the price is within the top of the bottom one-third of similar colleges nationwide, said Ben Graff, voting student regent.

    “”We are on the verge of fully changing how the regents and university think about the top of the bottom one-third,”” Graff said. “”It’s really quite a big change.””

    In doing so, a student’s program tuition could become more expensive than the top of the bottom one-third of what peer universities charge, Graff said.

    The base tuition for all UA students will also increase next year if regents approve President Peter Likins’ tuition proposal today.

    The proposal calls for a 4.6 percent increase, or an extra $200, for resident undergraduates, bringing their tuition to $4,594. Nonresident undergraduates would pay an extra $1,222, or a 9 percent increase, for a total of $14,800.

    Resident graduate students would pay an extra $432 each year, raising their tuition by 8.9 percent to $5,280. Nonresident graduate tuition would increase by 9 percent, or $1,242, to a total of $15,070.

    Schools can exceed these base tuition rates by establishing a differential tuition, which would let colleges like engineering set tuition rates that compare with other engineering colleges in the nation rather than entire institutions, Graff said.

    While the UA already has colleges with differentiated tuition, like the Eller College of Management and the James E. Rogers College of Law, the proposed changes would list criteria that colleges would need to meet when asking for a differential tuition in the future, said Dick Roberts, UA budget director.

    “”These policy changes really define what differential tuition is all about and how a college should go about setting a tuition that’s higher than the base,”” Roberts said.

    Before a university can implement a differential tuition that costs more than the base tuition or the standard rate, the revisions state the college must show how the differential tuition would:

    ? Substantially increase the learning experience that would not be possible without an increase.

    ? Be comparable to the student cost for similar units at peer institutions.

    ? Benefit the university as a whole, not just one discipline.

    The proposal also requires the tuition plan to be discussed with the affected students, a guideline that Graff said is necessary to give students a better perspective about future increases.

    “”If we assume it’s necessary for our colleges that have a higher cost of educating students, then we need to create a new way to communicate to students what a predictable ceiling would be,”” Graff said.

    The lack of communication about the differential tuition in the Eller College has frustrated students like Gary Smith, a pre-business junior, who said he found out from other classmates about the college wanting to increase the differential tuition to $800 from the previous $500.

    The extra tuition dollars equal a $1,600 expense over a two-year period, said Smith, a nonresident student from Pennsylvania.

    “”I haven’t received any e-mails on the Listserv and I haven’t seen anything posted in the college about the possible change,”” Smith said. “”I wish the school would have told us because that’s a lot of money, especially to students like me who have to work for their tuition money.””

    Between the proposed tuition increase and differential tuition, Smith will have to pay $1,500 more next year if the regents approve both proposals.

    “”I have to prepare for something like that, I just can’t come up with the money,”” Smith said.

    As colleges increase the cost of tuition, Graff said, an adequate financial aid plan should increase aid accordingly so students like Smith can afford the higher tuition and won’t have to switch majors.

    Any college wishing to implement a differential tuition would also have to show a financial aid plan, in which at least 14 percent of the tuition revenue would be allocated toward financial aid, Graff said.

    “”Every time we have an increase, we need to look back at accessibility and make sure we haven’t reached the point where it’s no longer affordable to certain groups of students,”” Graff said.

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