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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students call for 2.3% tuition hike

    A statewide student tuition proposal put forth last week calls for a 2.3 percent increase for resident UA students, but the proposal hinges on whether the state Legislature increases funding to the Arizona university system by $150 million in its next session – a move that would give at least an 8 percent increase to each institution.

    If the state provides less than that, the Arizona Students’ Association proposes that UA undergraduate and graduate students pay 6.5 percent more in tuition than they did last year, a figure that matches President Robert Shelton’s proposal.

    The Arizona Board of Regents will decide on the official plan during their next meeting Nov. 30 at the UA.

    Devin Mauney, an ASA director and spokesman for the joint student tuition proposal, said student leaders mean to make legislators more accountable for the cost of attending college.

    “”I believe (the proposal) is a bold attempt to put pressure where pressure has not been for many years,”” said Mauney, an economics sophomore at Arizona State University.

    Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Erin Hertzog said working on the proposal was difficult, but she is excited about its possibilities.

    “”If this works, it’s going to be one of the best things to happen for students,”” Hertzog said.

    Student tuition proposals in the past have often been reworked versions of presidential proposals calling for smaller increases.

    Mauney said many past legislators stated that they would provide more funding to state universities only if tuition increases were not so dramatic.

    The 2.3 percent proposed increase was based on the rise in median income of Arizona families during the last fiscal year, according to the proposal.

    This year, the Higher Education Price Index recorded a jump of 5 percent, according to the Commonfund Institute’s Web site, which measures inflation.

    Hertzog said the 2.3 percent figure came mainly as a result of looking at what Arizona families could afford, while still addressing some of the inflationary needs of universities.

    Ed Hermes, the voting student on the Arizona Board of Regents, said this year’s proposal marks the first time supportive legislators have the opportunity to “”put their money where their mouth is.””

    This year is a departure in other ways as well.

    Previously, student leaders offered their own proposals specific to each individual university.

    This year, however, Hertzog said Regent Dennis DeConcini proposed that student leaders from the UA work with their counterparts at ASU and Northern Arizona University to create the joint proposal.

    “”It’s a lot easier for regents to have one unified voice rather than eight different ones,”” Hermes said.

    Paul Thorn, president of theGraduate and Professional Student Council, said he was intrigued by the idea of working with other university leaders.

    While there were some minor disagreements on the exact percentage their proposal called for, Thorn said student leaders agreed on the plan’s basic idea.

    But this year’s student tuition proposal also comes with a new set of risks.

    The plan relies not only on approval from the regents, but also on the stipulated increase in funding from the Arizona Legislature

    Hermes said he is optimistic about the state giving the requested amount to universities next year because current leaders in the state House are more willing to provide the money than other elected officials in the past.

    “”I believe (the proposal) is a bold attempt to put pressure where pressure has not been for many years.””

    – Devin Mauney,
    ASA board member and spokesman for the joint student tuition proposal

    Chances seem better because the state gave an increase of almost $150 million last year, and Arizona’s economy has been strong since then, he said.

    “”For this year, at least, we have more opportunities,”” Hermes said.

    Thorn said that though he is optimistic, the actions of the board of regents and the state Legislature are hard to predict.

    Mauney said this plan makes sense for Arizona’s universities, because the proposed increase in tuition added to the required funds from the state would amount to more money than larger tuition increases alone.

    If regents do end up approving those larger increases, Mauney said he thinks chances of more state funding are slim.

    The timing of this year’s tuition setting in November as opposed to April could influence choices about state money, as legislators will not meet until the spring.

    Mauney said the new fall timeline made working on the proposal more difficult, even though the infrastructure for communication already existed through ASA.

    “”It did absolutely make us work harder and work quicker,”” Mauney said.

    The statewide proposal also includes sections specific to each university that list campus funding priorities. For the UA, those priorities include class availability, financial aid and campus advising.

    Thorn said those campus priorities are a result of a recent voluntary online tuition survey.

    Thorn also said he and Hertzog are planning to release a statement later in the week about program fees and the proposed addition of $50 to the technology fee for wireless Internet, neither of which were addressed in the tuition proposal or campus priorities listing.

    Hertzog said most program fees, like those in the Eller College of Management, have strong student support. But the technology fee is not so popular.

    Students taking the online survey indicated that they supported wireless Internet and are even willing to pay for it, but the $50 price tag is more than most people are comfortable with, Hertzog said.

    That’s why Hertzog said she and Thorn plan to ask for a $15 fee addition, which would be the same amount as the proposed library fee.

    A public tuition hearing will be held Monday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Harvill building, Room 211.

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