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By Tom Collins
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 27, 1997

Students may pay extra to graduate late

PHOENIX - Not graduating on time may soon have financial consequences for in-state students.

If it passes, House Bill 2444 would make in-state undergraduate students start paying out-of-state tuition if they take more than 32 credit hours over the number necessary for their degree. Doctoral and graduate students would face the same increase if they complete 20 credit hours more than required for their degrees.

This is the second year such a bill has been introduced by sponsor Jean McGrath, R-Glendale.

McGrath said Arizona taxpayers should not have to support the in-state rate after the students pass the credit limit.

"The term here is personal responsibility," McGrath said. She said students would be more inclined to graduate on time if their tuition was going to rise.

Christine Thompson, executive director of the Arizona Students' Association, said her group opposed the same bill last year, but that the board has yet to vote on this year's bill.

Members of the Arizona Board of Regents also considered the proposal last year and regected it.

Johnathan Schmitt, student regent and University of Arizona agriculture senior, said he does not think the concept is appropriate.

Schmitt said the idea has been discussed and put to rest with the regents.

"Everybody's looked at this thing before and decided it wouldn't be a good idea then," Schmitt said.

McGrath said she was asked to introduce the legislation by the regents, both last year and this year.

"The board, in it's official capacity, has not taken a stance on this," Schmitt said of the current bill.

John Munger, president of the regents, said McGrath mentioned the idea to him, and may have interpreted that as a request.

"Jean has been very good about raising issues," Munger said. He said he does not want to close the door on any subject.

The measure did not make it out of its committee hearing last year, because employees of the board "shot it down," McGrath said.

Thompson said ASA was troubled the last time by the possibility that students who switched majors or transferred credits from high school, community colleges and other universities might face the possibility of paying more tuition to get through school.

Schmitt said that besides the student who transfers and the student who changes majors, the measure might punish students doing coursework to keep up in their fields of work.

Thompson said the number of "career students" was over-estimated by legislators. She said most students want to graduate as soon as possible.

Schmitt said the problem of students taking too many hours has not been "chronic."

"I don't think there are too many people who stay here just for pleasure," Schmitt said.

McGrath said she does not see the measure as punitive.

"We're giving them a whole year," said McGrath in regards to students who transfer, change majors or fail classes.

The bill will need to pass the House committees on Public Institutions and Education before it moves to the full House.