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Grad students may quit over tuition hike

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DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Jim Collins, a graduate student with the lunar and planetary laboratory, asks UA President Pete Likins about tuition increases yesterday at the Town Hall meeting. Many graduate students were upset with the tuition increases the Arizona Board of Regents are considering for next fall.
By Keren G. Raz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday December 6, 2002

Administrators say increase is essential to the university's future

Graduate students many dressed in red to bring attention to their demands for better working conditions warned administrators at yesterday's Campus Town Hall on tuition that many of them may leave UA if the Arizona Board of Regents raises tuition.

President Pete Likins and Provost George Davis said that without a tuition increase, administrators would have to shut down one-third of the university.

The students said a tuition increase would take away money they need to pay bills.

The graduate student comments shifted the debate on tuition away from what has been a focus on resident undergraduate students.

Only a handful of undergraduate students sat in the crowd of 100 people in the Modern Languages auditorium yesterday.

Pete Morris, president of the graduate student professional council, said he is concerned the UA may lose many of its graduate students if the Regents raise tuition.

"Graduates are talking about leaving or taking a break," he said after the town hall. "I'm concerned about a mass exodus."

Likins has said he will propose a tuition increase to Regents this spring that would take effect in fall 2003. Likins has said he wants to increase tuition by $1,100 in the next three to five years.

The Regents are scheduled to set tuition for fall 2003 at an April meeting.

David Menchaca, a third-year English doctoral student, warned the administration that teaching assistants will leave if there is a significant tuition increase.

"I'm all for protecting needy undergraduates but for (graduate teaching assistants) that teach 80 percent of the classes who can't afford to come here anymore, where are you going to get graduate teaching assistants?" he asked.

To compensate for the increase, Likins said that administrators are considering waiving 50 percent of graduate teaching assistant's tuition if there is a tuition increase.

Graduate teaching assistants currently receive a 25 percent tuition waiver.

"As tuition goes up, so does compensation," Likins said.

Many students were skeptical of Likins' promise of financial aid.

"Is that a commitment?" Menchaca called out during the town hall.

Although Likins said he could not commit to a 50 percent tuition waiver, Morris said he expects Likins will commit in the near future.

Most graduate students were dressed in red as a reminder to the administration and the Regents that they have been asking for years for improved working conditions, a raise in graduate student pay and reduced tuition.

After having struggled for so long to receive higher pay, David Cardamone, a physics graduate student, said that the higher cost of a tuition increase would amount to a cut from his paycheck.

"If you received a 10 percent paycheck cut, would you stay here?" he asked administrators.

Graduate students are not the only ones who will be hard pressed for money if tuition is raised.

Nasilele Namakando, an architecture junior from Zambia, said that her family might not be able to pay for her education if tuition goes up.

"International students cannot qualify for most loans, grants and scholarships, and they cannot apply for residency. So they always pay out-of-state tuition," she said. "If tuition keeps going up, then what happens when a family can't afford it anymore?" she asked Likins.

Although Likins listened to all the students' concerns, he said he has no choice but to raise tuition to maintain the quality of education on campus.

Universities have increased the cost of tuition as legislators have slashed university budgets across the nation.

Likins wants to close the gap between the tuition level at the UA and the average national tuition level by eventually increasing undergraduate resident tuition to $3,600.

Regents recently asked Likins to look at the effect raising tuition by $500, $750 or $1,000 would have on students and the university.

Likins spoke yesterday only of what would happen if tuition were increased by $1,000.

Viewpoints

The Arizona Board of Regents is considering substantially raising tuition. After yesterday's town hall on tuition and financial aid, the Wildcat asked graduate students how a tuition increase would affect them.
Photos by Emily Reid
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"I'd have to take out more loans. More of my money will go to paying loans rather than paying the bills."

Thomas Kinney
graduate student in English


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"A tuition increase would mean I'd have an even harder time affording to go here than I already do. Next year I'll have to start getting loans."

Greg Stoltz
second year graduate student in anthropology and linguistics


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"I'm struggling right now. Fortunately, I have a spouse who works and supports my work as a graduate student. But the magnitude of the increase they're talking about would mean I would have to take out loans."

Ryan Moeller
graduate student in English


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"I wouldn't have enough money to live on. This whole thing makes me want to apply to other schools where a full tuition (reduction) is part of the package as a graduate teaching assistant."

Amanda Brobbel
fourth-year graduate student in English

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