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Regents president proposes new tuition setting process

Jonathan+Williams+%2F+The+State+PressThe+Arizona+Board+of+Regents+discusses+various+topics+inside+the+Turquoise+Room+at+the+Memorial+Union+in+Tempe+on+Friday.+The+regents+deliberated+a+wide+range+of+topics+during+the+meeting%2C+including+the+college+pipeline+and+the+tuition-setting+process+for+Arizona+universities.

Jonathan Williams / The State Press

The Arizona Board of Regents discusses various topics inside the Turquoise Room at the Memorial Union in Tempe on Friday. The regents deliberated a wide range of topics during the meeting, including the college pipeline and the tuition-setting process for Arizona universities.

TEMPE — The Arizona Board of Regents president proposed a policy revision she said would change the tuition-setting process for state universities during the regents’ meeting at Arizona State University on Thursday.

Eileen Klein, president of the board of regents, gave her report to the regents, which focused on the tuition and fee-setting process and her desire to make those processes more transparent.

Klein also proposed increasing student involvement in the tuition process, as well as the tuition-setting calendar.

Klein said the biggest thing she would like to see changed is more individualized discussions among the three Arizona public universities — ASU, Northern Arizona University and the UA. Under her proposed tuition-setting calendar, the board of regents would visit each university to understand its academic plans and the longer projection of tuition at that university.

During the spring semester, a tuition discussion would start in January with each university president announcing a statement regarding their general ideas for tuition, under Klein’s tuition-setting calendar revision.

The regents would then visit each university in February, March and April to have a more in-depth discussion regarding the universities’ tuition plans.

At the end of April, Klein said, all three university presidents would announce their tuition plans together, and then there would be a statewide hearing open for members of the public to share their thoughts and ideas.

Before the board of regents makes any decision regarding tuition and fee setting, Klein said she would like the opportunity to hear from each university president and take their ideas into consideration.

Public universities receive $750 million from the state government, Klein said, which accounts for 25.5 percent of the regents’ budget. The remaining amount of the budget comes from fees, and Klein said students are now carrying responsibility for the operating costs because, for every dollar that the state government removes from funding for the public universities, students have to pay it instead.

Regent Ram Krishna expressed concern about the future of state funding for education with the new Arizona legislature, to which both ASU President Michael Crow and Klein responded.

“Legislature is like a football game,” Crow said. “We like to actually play it rather than assume who’s going to win.”

While Klein suggested to Krishna that there could be a legislature-specific conversation at a later time, she did say the regents would be involved in working with the policymakers.

“We don’t want legislature to use tuition as a backstop for its budget troubles,” Klein said.

Thursday’s meeting opened with a call to the audience, where members of the audience could voice their concerns to the regents. During this time, ASU graduate students shared their concerns regarding tuition.

Andy Waldron, assembly president of the ASU Graduate and Professional Student Association, told the regents that graduate students are facing too much debt from student loans.

“The debt burden is being placed more and more on grad students,” Waldron said.

Individuals from a group of DREAM-ers also took to the podium to call on the board of regents to lower tuition rates for deferred action recipients.

The regents met again Friday to vote on approving several items on their agenda.

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Follow Meghan Fernandez on Twitter.

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