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ASUA: Likins can raise tuition

By Dana Crudo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday September 23, 2003

ASUA will support tuition proposal, asks for gradual increase

Seven months before tuition will be set, UA student lobbyists are just about ready to release their tuition proposal to support any hike recommended by President Peter Likins.

J.P. Benedict, student lobbyist and president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, said he will support Likins' tuition proposal this year, but will ask that administrators spread the hike out over two to three years so that students do not have to pay for it all at once.

Likins plans on asking the Arizona Board of Regents for a tuition increase that will propel UA to the top of the bottom one-third percentile, meaning that UA's tuition will rank around 35th in the country.

Likins said he wants to see UA at the top of the bottom one-third percentile whether the UA needs a $500 increase or $1000 to reach that point.

The exact number will be determined once the UA's tuition is compared to all of the other major universities in the nation, Likins said.

"I hope that ASUA won't challenge the policy, but rather challenge the rate at which the UA moves toward the policy," Likins said. "I understand that the student body president is in a different position than the UA president."

Challenging how fast the UA reaches the top of the bottom one-third percentile is exactly what J.P. Benedict anticipates doing.

"We understand the goals of the board of regents," Benedict said, "Our goal is to lesson the burden on the students."

Once Likins announces his tuition proposal, lobbyists plan to ask that the amount be spread out and collected in steps over a two-to-three year period.

Likins said that he would not be offended if such a request is made, as long as everyone is in agreement that the UA will eventually reach the top of the bottom one-third percentile.

Benedict said that he supports this target because he said that in order to maintain the quality of the university's education, additional funds are required.

"The UA is in competition with other universities in faculty retention," Benedict said. "Tuition increases help retain the quality teachers that we already have, and it allows for more class availability."

This is the first year student lobbyists will come out with a proposal before the tuition-setting process begins.

Last year, student lobbyists did not come out with a tuition proposal until mid-February, two weeks after the university presidents announced their own proposals.

But this year, student lobbyists are doing things differently because ASUA wants to get the tuition proposal out as soon as possible so that they can focus on other issues during the spring, Benedict said.

Along with the tuition hikes, ASUA plans to ensure financial aid increases accordingly.

"When the tuition rises, students will still be able to get support," Benedict said.

They will also concentrate on preventing budget cuts that have magnified the need for tuition hikes.

"Strategic lobbying efforts are our biggest problem," said Benedict. "Tuition increases cancel out because of money cuts from the UA budget."

In order to combat legislative cuts, lobbyists want to get more registered student voters who will get the Legislature to pay more attention to them, Benedict said.

"If we have the vote, we have more power, and they will listen to us," Benedict said.

ASUA wants to make higher student turnout at the polls a top priority this semester. They will be setting up booths on the Mall and at events to get people to register to vote.

ASUA also plans on setting up forums in October to allow students to speak out about tuition.

If you wish to register to vote or want to volunteer for the Associated Students of Arizona lobbying task force, visit the ASUA office, located above the UofA Bookstore.

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