By Wildcat Opinions board
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday February 11, 2003
Tuition increase should be moderate, across-the-board
As regents, student lobbyists and administrators hash out UA's next tuition increase, it is important to be conscious of the aim behind the hike. Students might be able to scrounge up 1,000 bucks extra either through loans or part-time work, but will see half of that increase go to financial aid for other students rather than their own educational benefit.
And as the key actors in this process make their moves, students need to look at the numbers and the philosophy behind the increase. One thing's for sure: the intention behind the hike is not to cure budget cuts; this is to "increase accessibility."
If students are going to pay more, the majority of the money should be invested in their education.
And there's a particular segment of students to keep in mind ÷ those who may not meet financial aid status, but at the same time cannot easily absorb an increase.
In President Pete Likins' tuition proposal, roughly 60 percent of the tuition increase will be funneled into boosting financial aid. For a student who does not receive aid, this means that around $600 of their $1,000 increase will go to pay for other students' tuition, not for improving the quality of her or his own.
Of the $34.5 million the increase is expected to bring in, only $13.9 million will be left over for UA to use freely after $20.6 million is subtracted for aid.
These changes are aimed at increasing accessibility for students whose parents might not be able to afford the cost of a UA education. Financial aid is an integral part of accessibility, as are merit-based scholarships. But spending 60 percent of the increase to fund aid seems counterproductive.
It's important to realize that recipients of financial aid are not just needy students, but also students who hold certain achievements and characteristics that the university deems valuable.
While bringing in top scholars does, in theory, elevate the university and bring in other dollars, the the cost of that recruitment will fall on the backs of some students who are barely getting by ÷ many of whom fall in the middle of the socioeconomic spectrum.
So, in an effort to increase accessibility, some students might actually be shocked by a $1,000 increase.
Student lobbyists have yet to take a public stance on tuition. If they are truly concerned with students' pocketbooks, they will call for a more moderate across-the-board tuition increase that's fair to all students, and set aside a smaller percent for financial aid, rather than shocking some with a large increase.
Yes, financial aid is important to the function of a public university. But students need to look at the numbers and recognize that the tuition increase is heavier on increasing the financial aid pot than on improving university services.
But the bottom line: The university needs to be bailed out of trying fiscal times.
By electing Republicans to the Legislature time and time again, Arizona has sent a harsh message to the state universities: Pay your own way.
That's a reality, and tuition dollars are one way of keeping UA financially afloat.
If students are going to pay more, then the majority of that money should be invested in making their education better, with a smaller percentage funneled to aid.
Regents, be warned.
If students don't see some tangible improvements at the university after the tuition increase, mainly in class availability and faculty retention, they won't be happy.
Editorials are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and are written by one of its members. They are Daniel Scarpinato, Jessica Lee, Jose Ceja, Jennifer Duffy, Brett Fera, Erik Flesch, Caitlin Hall, Jessica Suarez and Kendrick Wilson.