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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sen. OKs flat-tuition trial

    PHOENIX – State senators green-lighted a plan last week to allow incoming freshmen the option to avoid sharp yearly increases in tuition.

    Incoming freshmen would be able to opt out of the current system by paying a flat tuition that would not increase during their undergraduate education. The amount would be set by the university to reflect an estimated cost for a student to get his or her degree.

    However, students will have to move to Phoenix to take advantage of paying a fixed, flat tuition for their entire undergraduate education, as the pilot program is limited to Arizona State University.

    Under the plan outlined in SB 1469, university students would pay a fixed cost for their tuition. The cost for the flat-tuition program would be higher on a yearly basis than the current conventional tuition plan, but would not increase every year like tuition currently does.

    For example, ASU lists its current tuition as $4,404 per year for an Arizona resident seeking an undergraduate education. Without any tuition increases and with the assumption a student would graduate in four years, a degree from ASU could cost $17,616. As tuition costs increase yearly and university officials have increased tuition every year since 1993, the ASU education under the current system costs thousands more than $17,616.

    Under a flat-tuition model, a student would pay a pre-determined amount for four years at ASU. As an example, an incoming freshman would pay $20,000 to ASU in tuition – either in scheduled payments as the student goes to ASU or paying the amount up front in a lump sum – for undergraduate education. The amount is initially higher than the $4,404 a year students pay under the conventional model, but is adjusted to reflect what the cost will be over time.

    The bill’s author, Sen. Dean Martin, R-Phoenix, said no matter how much ASU raises its tuition, students opting for the flat-tuition model will not see any increases in the amount they have agreed to pay.

    Martin said he wrote the bill after seeing years of tuition increase affect the ability for some students to pay for college.

    A friend of Martin had to stop going to ASU after a 3 percent tuition increase because the self-supporting student could no longer afford it, he said.

    Martin also said the flat-tuition program would help with university retention rates, stating huge increases in tuition have likely driven some students out of Arizona universities.

    The Arizona Board of Regents requested that the program be limited to ASU, so they can study the five-year pilot program before deciding whether to implement the plan at the UA and Northern Arizona University.

    Board of regents officials want to study the pilot program to see if the flat-tuition model can be offered to each campus. It is unclear whether this model would bring in enough money for universities to operate.

    For next year, the UA has proposed increasing resident undergraduate tuition by $200, or 4.5 percent, and raising nonresident undergraduate tuition by $1,222, or 9 percent.

    Resident graduates would pay an additional $432, an 8.9 percent increase in tuition, while out-of-state graduate students would pay an additional $1,242, an 8.9 percent increase, if the board of regents approves Likins’ proposal.

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