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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tuition freeze?

    The Arizona Students’ Association released its statewide tuition proposal yesterday, requesting that the Arizona Board of Regents impose a freeze on tuition and look to the state Legislature for funding instead.

    “”In the past seven years,

    We have yet to give students the opportunity to fight and know what tuition increases mean and where the money goes.

    -Tommy Bruce,
    ASUA president

    students have had to bear the burden of tuition increases, and we have yet to go to the state Legislature first and the students second,”” said ASUA President Tommy Bruce. “”We have yet to give students the opportunity to fight and know what tuition increases mean and where the money goes.””

    The students’ proposal comes in two parts.

    First, a hold on resident graduate and undergraduate tuition that would restrict an increase by turning to the state Legislature to provide funding to each university equating to a five percent increase in base tuition.

    Second, ASA – which serves all three of the state’s major universities – would like to create a tuition taskforce, present within the Arizona Board of Regents throughout at least one year, to form long-term goals for creating stable tuition rates and predictable trends.

    “”We need long-term vision for tuition,”” Bruce said. “”We need to figure out how to set a long-term plan so that students and the regents aren’t having to think of new ways to decide on tuition every year.””

    For non-residents, Bruce said that he and Katherine Neish, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, are in support of UA President Robert Shelton’s tuition proposal, as long as the tuition increase is no larger than 10 percent for non-resident students.

    Despite the long hours that President Shelton, Neish and Bruce have spent together coming to an understanding on tuition, Shelton wrote in an e-mail that he does not believe the students’ proposal will be successful, as it places a heavy emphasis on the state Legislature in a year when funds are low.

    “”With respect to the state providing a ‘buy out’ of the five percent endorsed tuition increase, I unfortunately think it is unlikely,”” Shelton wrote. “”This is not any mean-spiritedness, simply the difficult financial picture the state is in this fiscal year.””

    Shelton’s proposal will be released Thursday, and will more than likely show an requested increase that is larger than 5 percent, he said.

    “”In crafting my proposal I have listened carefully to the students,”” Shelton wrote. “”I will undoubtedly pose higher than the 5 percent but keep the proposed resident increase in tuition to tuition below double digits.””

    The need for a tuition taskforce emerged from the results of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona’s tuition survey administered to UA students last month, Bruce said.

    “”The majority of students supported a zero percent tuition hike, but when asked if they knew where their tuition dollars went, 67 percent said they didn’t know and 70 percent said they felt it was important to know,”” he said.

    In the event that the Legislature will not increase its funding of Arizona universities, ASA will support up to a five percent increase in tuition, according to the proposal.

    Last year, ASA

    I will undoubtedly pose higher than the 5 percent but keep the proposed resident increase in tuition to tuition below double digits

    -Robert Shelton,
    UA president

    submitted a proposal that called for a 2.3 percent tuition increase provided that state legislators approve a 12 percent hike in funding to Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the UA.

    Despite that effort, regents were reluctant to place more pressure on the Legislature for funding, choosing instead to compromise by passing a five percent tuition increase.

    ASA board member Chris Nagata said he is confident this year’s campaign strategies – which will include tabling, tuition town hall discussions and T-shirts – will place more pressure on
    the Legislature.

    “”We want to stress that the state takes responsibility,”” Nagata said. “”Our asset and weapon is our strength in numbers. We have 120,000 students that we will garner up and make sure their thoughts are in the press and are heard.””

    In addition, Nagata said, ASA will discuss with legislators to secure their support and try to get those opposed to the plan to see the issue from students’ eyes.

    While traditionally the UA president submits a tuition proposal before a student proposal, Bruce said students wanted to release theirs a bit early to get a head start on campaigning.

    “”There is nothing better we could do than offer students the opportunity to fight for themselves,”” he said. “”That’s where this came about, and we want to see it pushed forward.””

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