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By Jennifer M. Fitzenberger
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 16, 1997

Students urged to submit ideas on tuition

The Arizona Board of Regents want to hear the opinions of students and families about tuition and residence hall rates during a multi-site tuition hearing tomorrow night.

The hearing will be held from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. via interactive television at the main campuses of Arizona's three state universities, four branch campus sites and on six cable stations. It will take place in Harvill Building Room 211 at the University of Arizona.

"A lot of times students will call me in September, complaining about tuition fees," said Norma Salas, regents' assistant for public affairs. "This is their time to talk to the regents about their concerns."

In a letter written April 9 to Associated Students President Rhonda Wilson, University of Arizona President Manuel Pacheco recommended a 5 percent tuition increase for both in-state and out-of-state students.

Last year, tuition was raised 3 percent for in-state students and 5 percent for out-of-state students.

Student Regent Jonathan Schmitt said the increase, which would generate about $4.3 million for the UA, would mean a tuition increase of $98 for residents and $416 for non-residents.

"I don't think a 5 percent tuition increase is justified this year," said Schmitt, a UA agriculture and resource economics senior. "Tuition is supposed to be as nearly free as possible, and we have already crossed that line."

The Arizona Constitution states that education should be "as nearly free as possible."

The student body presidents at the UA, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University have proposed no tuition increase because of a budget increase from the state Legislature this year, said Christine Thompson, executive director of the Arizona Students' Association.

The three state universities received $681.6 million from the Legislature this year - a budget increase of $47 million. Last year, the universities received a $24.6 million increase.

"This is the first year in a while when we have received a substantial funding increase from the state," Thompson said. "It is the belief of the student body presidents that students this year can get by without an increase."

Schmitt said last year's $24.6 million increase, combined with $11.8 million in tuition revenues, add up to about $10 million less than this year's legislative appropriation.

Although the UA received more money from the Legislature than last year, Joel Valdez, senior vice president for business affairs, said it was not enough.

"While it may look on paper like an increase, it is no where near what we requested," he said.

Paul Sypherd, senior vice president of academic affairs, said most of the money acquired in the budget increase has gone to fund mandated staff salary increases.

"The state is not providing for the actual cost of running a university," he said.

Sypherd said that all the money from Pacheco's recommended increase would support undergraduate education, such as advisers and computer centers.

Thompson said any raise in tuition could be detrimental to a student's education.

"Money affects students' ability to go to school and, at times, the Board of Regents does not see the big picture," she said. "If tuition is raised $50, some people may not be able to afford school."

Along with tuition, the regents will also hear student opinion on residence hall rates.

The regents voted unanimously in January to move the setting of residence hall rates from February to April, Schmitt said.

"The cause for this change is that regents would like to better comprehend the aggregate total of fees that students accrue while attending the university," he said. "This is not limited to tuition only, but includes housing, food, et cetera."

Jim Van Arsdel, director of the Department of Residence Life, said the UA will propose a 3.5 percent residence hall rate increase.

If the increased is accepted by the board, rates for individual halls will vary. Apache-Santa Cruz and Graham-Greenlee residence halls will increase by $70 and Arizona-Sonora, Coronado and La Paz halls will cost $93 more, Schmitt said.

Schmitt said both tuition and residence hall rates for the 1997-98 school year will be finalized at the board's next meeting at ASU-East April 24-25.

"Tuition and residence hall rates are a responsibility the regents take seriously," he said.

Salas said that students will have the opportunity at tomorrow's budget hearing to share personal stories and concerns with the regents, who will be scattered among the different sites.

Schmitt said the hearing will be a time for the students to talk and the regents to listen.

"If students are truly concerned about tuition being increased, then this is their opportunity to speak up," he said. "If you do not come but will be upset about tuition afterwards, you should think about coming now."

Schmitt said the regents want to interact with students in their element.

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