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pacing the void

By Jennifer M. Fitzenberger
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 25, 1997

Regents increase tuition for universities

MESA - The Arizona Board of Regents decided yesterday that Arizona residents will pay 2.5 percent more to attend the state's three universities next year, while their out-of-state counterparts will face a 4 percent increase.

In-state students at the University of Arizona will pay about $49 more next year. Out-of-state students will see a $332 change in their tuition bills.

"I am disheartened," Associated Students President Rhonda Wilson said after the meeting, held at Arizona State University's East campus. "It's almost like our (students') support wasn't appreciated."

Wilson and the student body presidents from Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University told the regents they were in favor of no increase because of the state Legislature's $47 million appropriation increase to the universities this year.

The universities received a total of $681.6 million from the state.

UA President Manuel Pacheco, who recommended a 5 percent increase, said that for each year that funding is not adequate, the UA goes deeper in debt.

Pacheco said the universities receive money from three sides: Legislative appropriations, internal allocations within the institution and tuition revenues.

"We would be short sided if we did not get an increase," Pacheco said.

Regent Kurt Davis proposed a 1 percent in-state and a 3 percent out-of-state increase, but Regents President John Munger said that would not make up for the rate of inflation. He said the current rate of inflation is 3 percent.

"You can't get ahead by staying even," he said. "Three percent is staying even."

Regent Judy Gignac said that, as a parent who has paid her child's tuition in the past, she understands student and parent concerns. Still, she said she favored an increase.

"I understand, but on the other hand, keeping tuition artificial and low is not going to help students. One percent is too low," she said.

The legislative appropriation was enough to cover the cost of inflation, Wilson said.

Student Regent Jonathan Schmitt reminded the board of the Arizona Constitution, which states that education should be as nearly free as possible. He said a 3 percent increase would force students to pay above and beyond the cost of education.

"No increase will award university families rather than taxing them further," Schmitt said.

Munger said the average annual tuition increase over the past 13 years was 6.5 percent.

"The universities have been cutting and cutting and cutting," he said. "I think President Pacheco is right on the number, his recommendation is only 2 percent over inflation."

An in-state resident attending a public university in the United States pays an average of about $3,300 in tuition and fees.

As the 48th most expensive public school system in the nation, the Arizona university system charged in-state students $2,009 for tuition and fees during the 1996-97 school year.

"We all know what the constitution says, but currently we are 40 percent below average nationwide," Gignac said.

"The Legislature and the governor did a fine job as far as the budget is concerned, but the money is not in sync with our priorities," Gignac added.

Wilson said during a break in the discussion that talk about the increase was very unnerving.

"What about students that cannot go to school anymore after this increase?" she said. "There are only so many jobs we can get when we are going to a university to pay for tuition."

After the meeting, Schmitt said he was disappointed about the tuition decision.

"Because of their (the UA's) financial difficulties, they pushed for an increase," he said.

The regents also capped residence hall rate increases at 2 percent for next year.

Schmitt said he did not fully agree with the 2 percent residence hall rate increase, which was 1.5 percent lower than the UA Department of Residence Life's suggestion.

"Residence Life has a fund balance of $2.1 million that should be reallocated," he said.

Davis said that students at a multisite tuition hearing April 17 asked that the regents focus on keeping rate increases to a minimum.

Pacheco said the students who have been involved in the recommendation process were supportive of the proposed increase.

Telling the regents that classes are also held in residence halls, he said he did not think the 3.5 percent rate increase proposal was frivolous.

In other business, the regents approved differential tuition fees for the UA's Master's in Business Administration and Master's in Management Information System programs.

A fee of $1,000 will be tacked on for the 1997-98 school year to improve technology in the departments and extend the accessibility of that technology to student work and study areas. The fee will increase to $2,000 in 1998-99.

In a letter to the regents, members of the MBA Student Association supported the additional fee, saying it would bolster the quality of the UA's MBA program.

The regents justified the additional fee by saying graduates of the programs have an increased earning potential.

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