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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


ABOR proposes tuition reform

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Board of Regents called on the presidents of the state universities, including the UA, to adopt multi-year tuition plans at its meeting Thursday.

The meeting at ASU brought forward proposed reforms to tuition and fees at the UA, ASU and NAU under the direction of the board of regents. The proposed reforms would not take effect until next year, said Eileen Klein, president of the board of regents. A multi-year tuition plan would require the UA to map out tuition rates for a window of time so students and their families would know what they can expect to pay for a few years out. Other states, such as Mississippi, Illinois and New York, have similar tuition models, according to Klein.

“The point is really to give that window of predictability over a timed horizon and have that baked into each university’s business plan,” Klein said.

The proposal also calls on the state government to offer more predictable revenue for the universities. Under this proposal, the regents would still retain the ability to adjust those tuition rates given the possibility of circumstances changing with regards to the funding coming in from
the state.

Gov. Jan Brewer called for the board of regents to adopt a predictable and stable tuition model for in-state students in her State of the State address last month.

Following the address, Brewer released her proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year, which offered the UA about 10 percent of its funding request.

“We can’t achieve stable tuition, predictable tuition, affordable tuition without the support of the state,” Klein said.

Mark Killian, vice chairman of the board of regents, said action needs to be taken in the Legislature to address concerns over UA funding.

“Part of the challenge we face is getting someone to move first, be the first one to jump out there and say, ‘Yeah, we need to have this money back for U of A,’” Killian said. “I don’t think anyone wants to take ownership of that at this point.”

UA President Ann Weaver Hart said the university is also working to use philanthropy to help support its financial needs, citing a $10 million gift that was recently presented to the UA.

The board of regents is recommending reforms to the fee setting process as well. Klein said multiple similar fees being charged to students could be streamlined to avoid confusion. The board also recommends putting a review process on fees so they could be removed or modified.

Rick Myers, chairman of the board of regents, said that the real conversation shouldn’t be about what the price of tuition is,but about what students are really paying for their education.

“We do ourselves just such a disservice because we only talk list price, and very few people in the scope of the whole universities are actually paying that list price,” Myers said.

Klein said she hopes the changes being recommended bring some clarity and transparency to the cost of tuition, and that the fee reforms can lead to student bills that are more clear and understandable.

“While it’s very tidy from an accounting point of view, I’m not sure it’s particularly friendly to a person who is trying to read it and understand,” Klein said.

In addition to tuition and fee reforms, the board of regents also discussed how Arizona schools were preparing K-12 students for college.

Killian said that the students coming into the state’s universities are not prepared enough for the level of education the universities demand.

“K-12 is not producing the product that we need,” Killian said.

The board voted to approve a statement that said it supports test standards for K-12 education to more accurately measure student progress and ensure that they can succeed in college and in their future careers.

“We are losing children, and for whatever reason, they have got to find solutions,” Killian said. “We stand ready to help in any way we can, but we need a better product.”

Hart said these are issues that will affect future generations of UA students.

“I think that it’s critically important that the legislators and everyone know that we’re working on all fronts to address these issues and the issues that have been raised by our students,” Hart said.

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