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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Differential tuition comes to fruition

    Bring up the perpetually hot topic of the cost of attending our fine university, and inevitably, the conversation will involve the tuition increases approved by the Arizona Board of Regents last spring.

    Considering the fact that full-time nonresident undergraduate tuition rose by nearly 10 percent from last year’s rate, the increase deserves its share of attention. However, a more intriguing change was also made in the form of a differential tuition rate for selected colleges within the university.

    For people not in the know, the differential plan entails further tuition increases for upper-level (junior and senior) students in select colleges on campus. For instance, students in the College of Engineering saw a $600 increase over last year, while students in the Eller College of Management saw a $300 increase. Other affected colleges include pharmacy and architecture.

    Anne Barton, the board’s executive director for public affairs, defended the new differential tuition plan by suggesting it is analogous to the disparity between undergraduate and graduate tuition.

    “”At one time, undergraduate and graduate students paid identically,”” Barton said.

    Of course, today, graduate students pay more than those of us without a degree. Therefore, according to Barton, “”this idea of differential tuition is really not unprecedented.””

    Essentially, when budget situations required a larger influx of tuition income, graduate students were the natural target because their higher earning potential made it easier for them to absorb the blow.

    So does this idea carry over into the undergraduate arena? For instance, are Eller business students more able to absorb a tuition increase because they (supposedly) command higher earning potentials than students majoring in Portuguese or dance? Apparently so, according to the board of regents. Barton recalled that during board meetings, “”there was some discussion to that effect.””

    Also considered was the fact that certain colleges simply have greater budgetary demands than others, therefore justifying their respective tuition increases.

    Still, charging students differently based on their course of study runs contrary to the idea of the “”uni””-versity. Charging more for a certain major lends credence to the false notion that one degree is more “”valuable”” than another. Sure, an accounting degree might make me more money than, say, an elementary education degree, but can anyone rightly say that a teacher’s contribution to society is any less valuable than that of an accountant? Why, then, are we placing a greater monetary value on an accounting education by charging more to attend Eller College?

    Another problem also arises. As incoming freshmen peruse the list of majors in search of something to study for four or five years, many will unfortunately have to take into consideration the additional costs of a particular major. Granted, the $300 increase at Eller College might not be a deal-breaker for most students, but what about the upcoming $3,000 increase at the College of Pharmacy? Luckily, pharmacy students won’t see that kind of increase fully realized until 2009, but aren’t you glad you’re not into filling prescriptions? (Sorry, pharmacy majors…)

    These quips aside, credit should be given where credit is due. This differential tuition plan is an aberration among the positive things going on with the board of regents.

    For instance, while last year’s tuition announcement was made in late spring, this year the board has changed its decision date to Dec. 1 – meaning that students will know much earlier what they will be paying for the 2007-2008 academic year. And on Nov. 30, the board of regents will host an on-campus hearing with students regarding tuition adjustments for next year.

    Barton recommends that any interested student should go, and I can’t help but agree – this is an issue that affects every single student on this campus.

    Anything less than a packed house at that hearing would be a dazzling show of the apathy for which our generation is so often vilified. With the relatively significant outcry over tuition issues, let’s not leave any seat empty.

    David Francis is a pre-business sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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