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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Never Settle shapes Hart’s tuition proposal

Senior+Vice+President+for+Academic+Affairs+and+Provost+Andrew+Comrie+delivers+the+UA%26%238217%3Bs+2015-2016+tuition+proposal+during+the+Arizona+Board+of+Regents%26%238217%3B+public+hearing+on+April+20+at+the+Gallagher+Theater.+The+hearing+allowed+students+to+voice+their+opinions+on+President+Ann+Weaver+Harts+tuition+proposal.
Sally Lugo

Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Andrew Comrie delivers the UA’s 2015-2016 tuition proposal during the Arizona Board of Regents’ public hearing on April 20 at the Gallagher Theater. The hearing allowed students to voice their opinions on President Ann Weaver Hart’s tuition proposal.

Students and the public voiced their opinions on the UA president’s recommendation for the 2015-2016 academic school year tuition and fees Monday night at the Arizona Board of Regents interactive tuition hearing.

Besides the UA main campus, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University main campuses and the five other campus sites participated in the live hearing. Each site included a monitor and sound, so each location could watch and listen to the proposals and public reactions.

Andrew Comrie, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, facilitated the UA Tucson location. Regent Valerie Hanna of the board of regents served as a moderator for speakers from the audience who gave their opinions regarding the proposal.

Melissa Vito — senior vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and vice provost for Academic Initiatives and Student Success ­— was also in attendance.

President Ann Weaver Hart was unable to attend due to a prior engagement but sent her regrets, according to Hanna.

In her absence, Comrie announced and explained the UA president’s recommendation for undergraduate tuition and fees for the 2015-2016 academic year.

The strategic business portion of the UA’s Never Settle program was used as a guide in the development of the UA’s tuition proposal, Comrie said.

“The UA has already determined not to pass on the full burden of the $28.5 million out-of-the-state funding cut to our students,” Comrie said.

Comrie said the basic elements of their plan are built around five key objectives:

  1. To maintain and expand the predictability in tuition for UA students and their families.
  2. To meet the state budget cuts through a shared approach. To include not only tuition revenue, but also internal cuts, efficiencies and reallocations.
  3. To establish a pilot of several master’s programs as part of the guaranteed tuition program.
  4. Examine the UA internal process for approval of course and program fees in collaboration with student leadership.
  5. Use the Never Settle plan to guide all together in institutional priorities and investment.

Student leaders within the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and the Graduate and Professional Student Council met with UA administration many times to review all the components involved when discussing budget and fees, Comrie said, and they gave their list of priorities for the upcoming year and following years.

Comrie added that maintaining a shared approach to meeting investments in the institution to ensure the UA can continue to provide a quality education was one of the student leadership’s top priorities.

Comrie also said the proposal addresses their priorities: One of the key elements is that mandatory fees will now be included in the guarantee, meaning that there will be one overall guaranteed price for incoming students.

Current undergraduate students who did not opt into the guarantee program last year are being offered an opportunity to enroll this year at the tuition and fee rates approved for last year. This will give upperclassmen the chance to sign up to lock in their tuition and not see a rise.

The UA president’s recommendation for the 2015-2016 academic year proposes a rate of $11,403 for incoming resident students. This is a $446 increase and a 4.1-percent increase from the current rate of $10,957.

Each new incoming UA student will automatically be placed in the guaranteed tuition program, locking in their tuition and fees rate of their first academic year for four years.

Other elements of the recommendation include:

  • A 2.8-percent increase for continuing resident students who chose not to opt in the guaranteed tuition program, a $291 increase from the current rate of $10,581.
  • For new nonresident students who are automatically enrolled in the guaranteed tuition program, a 10.9-percent raise is proposed, meaning students will pay $32,630, a $3,209 increase from the current rate of $29,421.
  • Continuing nonresident students who chose not to opt in to the guaranteed tuition program rate are proposed to see a 5.8-percent increase, raising the rate by $1,646 from $28,379 to $30,025.
  • The rate for resident UA Tucson graduate students is proposed to see an increase of $325 from $11,723 to $12,048.

The rate for nonresident UA Tucson graduate students is currently $28,705; the recommendation proposes a 5.8-percent increase of $1,665 to raise the rate to $30,370.

ASUA President Issac Ortega said, fortunately, they face the reality of ensuring that every student that can has access to the university and that future and current students continue to have the ability to enjoy high-quality education.

“There’s not a single person that enjoys seeing [the] tuition rate go up,” Ortega said, “but we do understand that we have to ensure some quality. I’m actually proud, and I support this guaranteed tuition proposal for this next year.”

Zachary Brooks, three-term GPSC president, said they support this “as a very practical matter.”

“There’s no way philosophically we can support constant increasing tuition in the state of Arizona,” Brooks said.

GPSC President-elect Sarah Netherton also gave her support for the proposal and commended the administration on listening to students and showing transparency.

Brooks also said he certainly would like to support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students who would like to receive in-state tuition because, as Arizonans, they deserve it.

Multiple students from Scholarships A-Z attended and spoke about how the proposals fails to neglect the issue of students who do not have social security numbers but have lived in Arizona a majority — if not all of ­— their lives; they are being denied in-state tuition. They have to pay out-of-state or international tuition and are often deferred from the opportunity of having higher education because of lack of federal or state aid from a place they have always called home.

Other student government and ASUA students voiced their opinions on how much they appreciate the transparency and cooperation the administration has provided with the proposal formation.

“I feel like this is something that the administration has done with us, not to us,” said Stephanie Salazar, a student who said she would not have been able to continue attending the UA if it wasn’t for the guaranteed tuition program.

Graduate student Jared Brock said costs are disproportionately passed to medical students and that they are hit the worse. He said that not only has the increase in medical tuition been 130 percent that of undergraduate students, they do not have the option for guaranteed tuition. He added that not only do they have the highest tuition rate but also the highest rate on their loans.

“I see all this, and I’m not sure if I should laugh; I’m not sure if I should cry,” Brock said, “but I am sure I’m going to have to open my wallet, because I have no other choice.”

A representative from the Asian Pacific American Student Affairs said that UA prides itself on diversity but is making the university harder and harder to afford, limiting the educational opportunity for many.

Brenda Wheeler, a parent of two sons that currently attend the UA, urged the administration to consider those who have to pay for multiple children’s tuitions when deciding to raise them; she also asked administration to consider helping out or giving a discount for those paying for multiple students. She said she only want her sons to have the opportunity for higher education like she did, without being buried in debt in the process.

The board of regents tuition setting calendar of events explains the upcoming remaining steps in the process of determining tuition. Each of the university presidents will present their proposals in person at the board of regents tuition workshop on April 27 starting at 9 a.m.

The board is expected to set tuition and fees rates for the upcoming academic school year on May 4 at 2 p.m.

The interactive hearing last night was the last event open to public comment.

Mark Killian, chair of the board of regents, said it served as the call to the audience and announced that individuals wishing to share opinions or comments are allowed to still send them to the board.

The board of regents tuition-setting calendar of events encourages individuals to send comments via email, mail and fax, which will then be shared with the regents before the May 4 meeting, if sent in before April 30.

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Follow Chastity Laskey on Twitter.

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