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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: Tuition hike will hurt students most

    We don’t envy President Robert Shelton. On top of the UA reconstruction project, he has to decide how much to raise tuition next year.

    The Arizona Board of Regents voted 6-4 Thursday to cap tuition hikes for the UA at $726, with $166 being the lowest possible hike. If Shelton opts for the maximum increase, students will have to shell out $6,257 to attend classes next year.

    With state funding growing leaner, the UA is increasingly forced to confront the same financial burden as any other business. Unfortunately, tuition hikes push that burden onto students, and they are often ill-equipped to handle it.

    Tuition is creeping up all around the nation – the average price tag of a four-year education went up 20 percent in the last three years – and Arizona’s universities are especially vulnerable because of the state government’s crippling deficit. According to the Phoenix Business Journal, the deficit could climb as high as $1.7 billion this year.

    That deficit provides a ready-made excuse to trim funding for universities. Raising tuition takes pressure off the state legislature to fund higher education, as Regent David Martinez III rightly pointed out when he voted against the proposal.

    “”Students and families are not prepared to take on this extra burden,”” he said. We couldn’t agree more.

    With people flooding the job market to take second jobs to support themselves, students are finding it harder and harder to get a foot in the door. Student unemployment rose to 20 percent last summer, according to a Monday story on creditcards.com.

    Lending companies, too, are scaling back their student loans, leaving students with few options other than financial aid, which often doesn’t cover their entire tuition. An increasing number of students are using credit cards to pay their tuition.

    “”With fewer loans and jobs available, you have the makings of an increase in college student credit card debt on top of existing student loan debt,”” Dimitri Michaud, a consumer finance analyst, told creditcards.com.

    The twin problems of loan debt and credit card debt are familiar enough. What’s going to happen if we begin to see more and more students entering the post-college world saddled with both?

    Of the myriad problems confronting the UA, high tuition hasn’t traditionally been a major one. Indeed, tuition accounts for only 15 percent of the UA’s funding. Of the 62 colleges in the Association of American Universities, the UA is the second-cheapest to attend. But the combination of a collapsing national economy and a shrinking university budget may well change that.

    In his communications to the UA community, Shelton has emphasized the university’s interest in attracting and retaining as many students as possible. We hope that Shelton won’t forget that the UA can’t do that without keeping tuition affordable for students. Otherwise, graduation ceremonies may start to look sparser and sparser – and those who are there may well sport a maxed-out credit card along with the honors medals on their gowns.

    Editorials are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Andi Berlin, Justyn Dillingham, Lauren LePage, Lance Madden and Nick Seibel.

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