Likins supports boosting tuition, student aid funds
UA President Peter Likins told a group of students on a television interview show Sunday that both tuition and financial aid need to be increased in order to better serve student financial need.
Associated Students President Cisco Aguilar responded yesterday to Likins' comments by saying he believes tuition needs to be kept as low as possible.
The interview was moderated on KVOA-TV by Sandy Rathbun, a University of Arizona journalism instructor. The audience was made up of Rathbun's broadcast journalism students.
In an answer to an audience member's question during the interview, Likins said, "I believe that the tuition is too low, and that financial aid is much too low."
Likins said the current tuition paid by in-state students does not pay the majority of campus programs.
"At about $2,000, it (tuition) pays for only a very small fraction for what it costs to educate students," he said.
He also defended the current tuition increases of the past few years.
"Tuition has increased on average $100 per year," he said. "By my lights, that is not that much."
Likins said that while the tuition must be raised for those who can afford it, the amount of financial aid must also increase for those who cannot.
"I think there is a problem of financial accessibility to the University of Arizona," he said. "A lot of our students borrow a lot of money and work a lot of hours."
Likins said in-state tuition - which is approximately $2,000 per year - is not the only factor that affects university students.
"There are $6,000 to $8,000 in extra costs," he said. "It becomes more than many families can bear."
Members of the Arizona Students Association, a state-wide student group that lobbies the Arizona state Legislature and Board of Regents on behalf of university students, are consistently opposed to any increases in tuition.
Aguilar, also a member of ASA, said the university should provide students with the lowest tuition possible.
"I still believe that we need to adhere to the standards set out by the state constitution to keep tuition as free as possible," he said.
Aguilar cited the Arizona State Constitution, which states that all state-funded universities must be as free as possible for students.
"I believe strongly in the mission of ASA to keep the student tuition from raising any further," he said. "It's not becoming freer and freer."
Aguilar also said that Likins' idea presents a further burden for the students who do not rely on financial aid for tuition.
"They (students who rely on financial aid) are just a small portion of the student body," he said. "It is the middle class which is the largest part of the school, and they can't be expected to pay for everything."
John Nametz, director of need-based aid at the UA financial aid office, had no comment concerning raised tuition, but agreed with Likins' points concerning increased amounts of financial aid.
"Since the early 1990s, student financial aid debt has doubled," Nametz said. "I think it's definitely fair to say that President Likins is absolutely correct in his assessment of the financial aid situation."