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Wednesday December 6, 2000

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TAs displeased with changes in tuition options

By Mindy Jones

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Other state universities lack similar alternatives for their

UA graduate students and organizations continue the debate over the recent changes in tuition payment options available for graduate teaching assistants.

Last Thursday, University of Arizona Provost George Davis passed an initiative allowing tuition and registration fees for graduate teaching assistants to be taken out of their first five university paychecks.

Davis cited "financial relief" as the primary goal for the change in policy in an earlier interview.

The option would be available to graduate teaching assistants at their time of hire or contract renewal, beginning Fall 2001.

Although other specifics about the plan have not been finalized, the controversy over the university's intentions have already surfaced.

Greg Knehans, a political science graduate student and teaching assistant, said the change was "silly" and ill-timed.

"For most students, the tuition and registration fees amount to about one-fourth or one-fifth of their income," he said. "Whether it is taken away at the beginning or not doesn't really make a difference."

Knehans added that the university is essentially requiring their employees to pay for their jobs and that this idea would be considered "ridiculous" in other professional realms.

The argument for the elimination of tuition and registration fees is common among other UA departments, as well.

Bill DeGenaro, an English graduate student and teaching assistant, said although the payment option may be convenient for some students, it is important to keep in mind that there is no actual "financial relief" provided.

"If you have to take out loans to survive, the fees are still going to be subtracted from your disbursement check," he said. "The bottom line is that graduates should not have to pay course fees."

DeGenaro added that it is not the university's job to "micro-manage" the graduate's money but rather to compensate them for the assistance they provide the university with.

"It is fortuitous that the change is happening during the time the university is hiring a new football coach," he said. "When they say they have no money, it makes you wonder where their priorities are."

While some UA graduate students may not agree with the tuition payment option, teaching assistants at Arizona State University do not have any tuition payment options available to them.

Mary Echeverria, ASU Student Regent, said by making options available to students, the UA is showing their dedication to graduates and the work they do for the university.

"I do support the new payment option because it simply provides an additional option for the students," she added. "However, there is much room to grow."

Echeverria has been an advocate for the elimination of registration and tuition fees for many students in the past and said that Arizona universities could use it as a valuable recruiting tool.

Jason Auxier, president of the UA Graduate and Professional Student Council, agreed with the importance of tuition and registration fee waivers but said this plan will temporarily reduce the burden of out-of-pocket expenses for graduates.

"I made it clear to the administration that this is not a substitute for tuition waivers," he said.

Mindy Jones can be reached at



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