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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Shelton plans to request tuition hike

    President Robert Shelton said he has tentative plans to call for an in-state tuition increase of about 6.5 percent when he submits his proposal to the Arizona Board of Regents tomorrow.

    Shelton said the figure is still somewhat flexible, and it may change slightly by the time he submits his final proposal.

    Shelton said setting tuition for the next academic year is a complicated process, but it boils down to two basic issues.

    “”It’s really about inflation and what our prior obligations are,”” he said.

    Those “”prior obligations”” include providing money for need-based financial aid, which Shelton said he wished had more funding from the Arizona Legislature.

    “”It should be so obvious that this would be for the benefit of the entire state,”” Shelton said.

    This is the first time Shelton has set the tuition for the UA, and it is also the first time a UA president has had to present his proposal in the fall semester instead of in spring.

    After the board reviews the recommendation, Shelton’s proposal will go public and be debated at a series of hearings before the board votes on the final tuition amount at a Nov. 30 meeting at the UA.

    Dick Roberts, the UA budget director, said the process of setting tuition under Shelton isn’t markedly different than it was under former President Peter Likins because the UA’s budgeting problems remain largely the same.

    “”We’re talking about pretty much the same constellation of issues,”” Roberts said.

    However, because Shelton must now submit his proposal to the board of regents in the fall instead of the spring, Roberts said the process is somewhat accelerated.

    Shelton said he has worked with student body leaders to get a sense of what is important to UA students.

    Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Erin Hertzog said ASUA has had to be much more focused in response to the new fall timeline.

    “”It’s very concentrated,”” Hertzog said. “”We’ve had to shift a lot of energy into tuition.””

    This year, Hertzog and Paul Thorn, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, are working with student body representatives from other Arizona universities to present a statewide tuition proposal to the regents.

    The student leaders plan to make their proposal public after the presidents of Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the UA go public with theirs.

    After that happens, Hertzog said, ASUA will gather results from an ongoing online survey and use that data to make a second proposal, specific to the UA, that shows student funding priorities.

    As of yesterday, Hertzog said about 3,700 students had completed the online tuition survey.

    Thorn said that a survey of only graduate students showed 85 percent of respondents opposed a planned $50 addition to the UA instructional technology fee that would raise the fee to a total of $100, which would go toward creating a better infrastructure for wireless Internet.

    Program charges, like the proposed $100, are not covered under scholarships or tuition waivers.

    Thorn said he would rather see a $50 tuition increase instead of a $50 program fee because that way, scholarships and tuition remission would apply.

    Hertzog said it was important for her and Thorn to work together to present a different amount that both would find more reasonable and that would do more to address student needs.

    Even though much of her work on tuition will be over sooner than in the past, Hertzog said setting tuition in the fall actually provides students with more opportunities to benefit.

    Because tuition is set so early, Hertzog said students have more time to plan if there is an unexpectedly high increase.

    Also, because students have the information for a longer amount of time, they can better address their concerns to state lawmakers.

    “”It gives us good, ample time to mobilize students to lobby the state Legislature,”” Hertzog said.

    Roberts said two of the biggest potential drawbacks to setting tuition in the fall involve the state political system.

    First, though it didn’t happen this year, Roberts said the price of higher education could become a much more closely watched election issue.

    Also, because the Legislature meets after the UA has already set its tuition, lawmakers know how much money the UA expects to get in the next year.

    Roberts said that information has the potential to influence legislators’ decisions about how much state funding to provide to the UA.

    In previous years, Arizona’s university presidents have known how much funding to expect from the state before designing their tuition proposals.

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