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Wednesday November 22, 2000

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Governor's task force recommends $739 in-state tuition increase

Headline Photo

By Shana Heiser

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Proposal must be passed by Regents before taking effect

In what could be the beginning of a wave of requests for a large tuition increase, the governor's task force released a report recommending in-state tuition increase $739 during the next three to five years.

If the Arizona Board of Regents agrees with the recommendation, in-state tuition would increase from $2,259 to $2,998 a year. However, they do not meet to discuss tuition until the spring, said Matthew Ortega, Regents assistant executive director for public affairs.

"All the task force recommendations are very preliminary," Ortega said. "Tomorrow, tuition is not going to go up a little higher."

The task force wants higher tuition to fund programs such as optics at the University of Arizona and water engineering at Arizona State University, said Francie Noyes, the governor's press secretary.

"All of these kinds of things that we're looking at do have a cost attached, and one possible way of raising money is to increase tuition," Noyes said.

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona have not released a statement regarding the recommendation yet, but ASUA president Ben Graff said the major increase would bring a lot of concern.

"It makes it that much harder for the average or lower-income student to attend a public institution," Graff said. "We're in the process of researching new ways to solve the tuition battle because the Arizona Student's Association is not in favor of a large tuition increase."

The recommendation will guide the regents' work, but it won't be the deciding factor, Ortega said.

The UA's tuition remains at the bottom to middle of the lowest third of tuition among peer institutions, and the task force has suggested UA move at least to the top of the bottom third, Fahey said.

"It has been pointed out to the task force that the universities are not as well financed as many peer institutions," he said.

Graff said he hopes the majority of the needed money can come from sources other than tuition.

"I'm not against the areas that are in need, of research, building renewal and teacher salaries," Graff said. "We want to look at other ways of finding the money and not just tuition. It's a very delicate issue this year."

Gov. Jane Hull asked the task force to come up with a blueprint for higher education during the next 20 years, Noyes said.

Some other options may include Proposition 301 money and general funding from the state, Fahey said.

Although the major issue at hand is in-state tuition, Fahey said out-of-state tuition may be affected.

"Normally, whenever the board changes in-state tuition, the board changes out-of-state tuition," he said.

Additional issues covered by the task force's report include decreasing the high school dropout rate and increasing the college attendance rate, doing work force development, focusing on adult education, and increasing research and business development, Noyes said.

Ultimately, the Board of Regents have the final say.

"The governor doesn't have the authority to make this happen," Noyes said. "She doesn't usually get involved in those decisions, but given that this was her task force that made the recommendation, she's certainly going to take a look."