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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    State financial aid ‘woefully low’

    Journalism department head Jacqueline Sharkey tells students about the upcoming differential tuition for the department of journalism in the Student Union Memorial Center last night. Provost George Davis, right, Associated Students of the University of Arizona president Erin Hertzog and vice provost Jacqueline Mok were also present to answer questions.
    Journalism department head Jacqueline Sharkey tells students about the upcoming differential tuition for the department of journalism in the Student Union Memorial Center last night. Provost George Davis, right, Associated Students of the University of Arizona president Erin Hertzog and vice provost Jacqueline Mok were also present to answer questions.

    If UA students are going to see any major reductions in the amount of money they each spend on their education, it’s going to come from the state, said panelists at a town hall meeting held yesterday in the Student Union to discuss tuition.

    Much of yesterday’s meeting focused on overall affordability of attending the UA, which encompasses not only tuition, but also student financial aid.

    State-sponsored financial aid is “”woefully low”” and needs to be increased so more students can afford to attend the UA, said Jacqueline Mok, vice provost of academic programs and initiatives.

    Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Erin Hertzog said the Arizona Legislature provides $6 million every year for financial aid, a figure that is well below the $100 million national average.

    “”State financial aid has got to increase in contribution,”” Mok said. “”If you have to rely on self-funding, it just gets worse.””

    Mok said UA administrators, led by President Robert Shelton and Provost George Davis, are working hard to get more support from legislators.

    Davis said that increasing tuition for all students to meet the demands of a few departments or colleges would make the UA unaffordable to many prospective students.

    As a result, the Eller College of Management and the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture charge students differential tuition fees. The Arizona Board of Regents will consider adopting a fee for journalism students at its next meeting.

    “”If you don’t approach it appropriately, it can be really dangerous,”” Hertzog said.

    If differential tuition becomes a common practice, Hertzog said she is worried academic advisers could be put in the position of financial advisers.

    “”Some students are actually going to look at what is the cheapest major, rather than what is the most beneficial for them,”” Hertzog said.

    Jacqueline Sharkey, head of the journalism department, defended the practice, saying that it has so far only applied to professional-oriented and nationally accredited programs.

    Sharkey said students will also be given a chance to say how the department should spend its extra funding.

    “”Students will know exactly where their money is going,”” Sharkey said. “”We do not believe it will set a trend.””

    Regent Fred Boice said the Arizona university system will do its best to make education smoother and more affordable, but students have to take some responsibility, too.

    Students have to “”do a better job of managing their college careers,”” Boice said, which can mean taking advantage of options like classes at Pima Community College.

    Elaine Ulrich, a philosophy graduate student and former president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, said she was not sure the UA was being fair in some of its tuition charges.

    Ulrich said that a recent survey, which showed that 85 percent of graduate students oppose the proposed $50 per person increase in fees for wireless Internet access, has been largely ignored.

    “”If we’re not there, working to develop our (information technology) infrastructure, we lose our competitive advantage,”” said Provost George Davis.

    Kathy Martin, an associate director in the financial aid office, said her office does its best to help students attend the UA for as little money as possible.

    Financial aid forms are complicated, though, and Martin said many people are so put off by the paperwork they fail to apply.

    “”We try to make it as simple as we can,”” Martin said. “”We try not to put additional obstacles in their way.””

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