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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Regents approve surcharge

    After voting almost unanimously to exempt the “”free as possible”” clause of the Arizona constitution, the Arizona Board of Regents passed tuition surcharges at all three state universities Thursday morning in the Student Union Memorial Center North Ballroom.

    The UA will see a yearly tuition surcharge of $795 for in-state students and $965 for out-of-state students.

    UA President Robert Shelton said the reason for the reduction from the originally proposed $1,100 tuition surcharge per year is because of the amount of federal stimulus money that has been promised to the state universities.

    “”I know that the topic of tuition is filled with tension. Considering the considerable fiscal state of the university, we are all focusing our attention on this topic,”” Shelton said. “”We are trying to find a balance to cut and consolidate and still maintain a high degree of education.””

    Arizona State University President Michael Crow said he was able to reduce his proposed surcharges from the original $1,200 to $600 for residents and $800 for non-residents, but the Regents did not pass his proposal. It was later passed at a rate of $510 for residents and $710 for non-residents. After a lengthy debate, an amendment was also passed that would create a student group at ASU that would work with Crow to help properly distribute different fees.

    The Northern Arizona University surcharge of $422 for residents and $522 for non-residents passed, however there was no change from NAU President John Haeger’s original proposal.

    Regent Fred Duval said because no one knows the exact federal stimulus amount the universities will receive, these measures are simply deferring a potentially bigger crisis.

    “”We have heard what you have had to say and we have listened. Today we have struck a response. We get it and we’ve heard it. We have not avoided revenue, we are simply deferring a bigger crisis. We are just deferring a harder decision; people need to be crystal clear that is what we are doing.”” DuVal said.

    Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer spoke at the meeting about her vision for the future of Arizona universities. She assured the Regents she would immediately apply and accept the estimated $1 billion in federal stimulus money Arizona is likely to receive. She said that approximately $80 million is already earmarked to filter into kindergarten through grade 12 and also higher.

    “”I recognize and appreciate that you as leaders are suffering through your own financial troubles. I notified the president of the United States that Arizona deserved federal money. I will apply and accept federal stimulus funds,”” Brewer said.

    With her reassurance, she also warned the Regents that federal money is one-time only and the university systems have to be improved.

    Brewer called for accountability of the universities in regards to creating a more successful and efficient business model. She then asked for predictably of university tuition hikes, and affordability for all students.

    “”Your budget plans must consider tomorrow. We cannot crush or defeat the aspirations of the students in Arizona,”” Brewer said. “”The challenges we face today should be viewed as an opportunity to make a better future. I want a better business model that is affordable. We cannot delay action any longer. Now is the time to be bold and act.””

    She warned the Regents that if they did not act, in 2012 they would be at the edge of a metaphoric cliff, and she said without a better economic model, the universities would fall off the cliff.

    Regent Ernest Calderon voiced his thanks to Gov. Brewer’s support of higher education.

    “”Without Gov. Brewer’s support, these numbers would be significantly higher. She has exercised latitude and discretion in the favor of our students. We will have sufficient federal stimulus funding in 2010 and 2011,”” Calderon said.

    According to Calderon, the tuition surcharges are not a new tuition policy, they are simply a temporary response to a very dire situation. He said this is also not a new funding model for the universities; that will be developed and presented to Brewer in the fall.

    “”We are between a rock and a hard place. No matter where we are students are going to lose access to gaining an education,”” Arizona Facilities Council President J.C. Mutchler said. “”If we don’t raise tuition we are going to lose faculty and staff. There is no easy solution, no easy choice. I hope we can hold the students as harmless as possible.””

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