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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students plea for tuition reprieve

    Single parents, veterans, students who work four jobs and graduate students joined others who spoke to the Arizona Board of Regents last night at a tuition hearing, which used live video to connect all campuses at the three Arizona universities.

    At the UA, about 50 students came out to the Harvill building to voice their opinion for or against tuition raises and fees, and testify how they would be affected.

    Some students supported President Robert Shelton’s tuition proposal while others supported the Arizona Students’ Association’s tuition-freeze proposal.

    Shelton’s proposal, if passed, would raise tuition by 9.8 percent for in-state undergraduates and 15 percent for out-of-state undergraduates.

    “”I want your diplomas to continue to stand for something great when you hang them on the walls of your future offices. We simply cannot do that for free,”” Shelton said. “”So no matter how generous the Legislature can be with us, we simply cannot achieve this vision without additional tuition and on state appropriations alone.””

    ASA proposed a statewide tuition freeze, with the Arizona state Legislature “”buying out,”” or funding, a tuition increase of 5 percent for each campus.

    Supporters of ASA’s proposal, which at the UA include the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and the Graduate and Professional Student Council, wore blue shirts printed with “”freeze tuition”” and served Eegees before the hearing to drive home the message.

    They also collected cards from more than 6,000 students across the state supporting the tuition freeze.

    “”We’re approaching state (legislators) for the funds because we feel that the students, that source, has already been tapped a long time ago,”” said Michael Slugocki, vice president of ASA. “”It’s time to give students a break.””

    Students at campuses across all three universities told the regents how the tuition increases would affect them personally.

    While a few students spoke in favor of tuition increases and various fees at the university, at the UA and UA South, the majority supported ASA’s tuition-freeze proposal.

    “”If tuition rates keep going up and loan amounts don’t go up and I’m losing grant money, there’s not really going to be a way to continue my education,”” said Jeffrey Petruski, a UA anthropology senior. “”Four or five hundred dollars is talking about two to three more weeks worth of work for me. That’s a huge amount of money that I’ve got to now find.””

    English junior Brian Mori said his father told him when he went to college that his family would look at his stay as an investment, as Mori would take his education, go out in the world and represent his family name well.

    Mori asked the regents to do the same by investing more in the educational system and by not increasing tuition.

    “”I compel the Arizona state Legislature to invest more into the Arizona students so that we can take the name of Arizona out into the world,”” Mori said.

    UA graduate students also spoke against increases.

    Jacob Knutson, a graduate student in public administration, said several of his friends who were once in school to become architects and doctors are now cooks and deliver pizza, like Knutson himself, because of the costs of education.

    Graduate students expressed additional concerns.

    About 20 percent of UA graduate students have families and many no longer have parental financial support, said Catherine Neish, GPSC president.

    Graduate students also don’t have as many financial aid options, so tuition increases can be detrimental, she said.

    ABOR President Fred Boice, who was present at the UA last night, was unsure whether the Legislature would be able to come up with increased funding in a time of a state budget shortfall.

    ASA recognizes its proposal may be difficult to pass.

    “”We are optimistic,”” Slugocki said. “”We know it is a lofty goal and we’re OK with that. Sometimes, you have to fight hard for what you believe in.””

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