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Issue of the Week: Are tuition hikes justified?

Illustration by Cody Angell
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday September 3, 2003

Last Thursday, President Likins said that students can expect to see more big tuition increases in the near future. Given last year's huge hike and the state of the university at present, we asked our columnists: Are more hikes justified?

Give us a tuition increase that does something

Despite a state constitution that all but bars them, tuition increases are important to the growth of the university that is unless they are Pete Likins' increases.

In case you missed it, last spring Likins pushed, so-called student lobbyists supported and regents passed a tuition hike that did little more than pay for itself. More than 60 percent of the increase goes to financial aid, leaving little money to spend on the real problems that continue to plague the UA faculty brain drain and embarrassingly large class sizes, for example while remaining unaddressed by regents and administrators.


Unfortunately, the financial aid distribution process is less than angelic. Some middle- to low-income students don't receive financial aid, but that does not mean that they can easily eat up a $1,000 tuition increase. Those students who are taking out extra loans or working overtime to pay for the hike are subsidizing the tuition of other students.

If the UA sought smaller increases of a few hundred dollars with much less directed to financial aid, it would not be unreasonable to ask nearly all students to make up the difference.

The hike is just one of a number of UA policies that Likins calls practical, but are blatantly ideological. Now is the time for our student body president, J.P. Benedict, to take an early stance (not necessarily a dollar figure, just a stance) on tuition, like former President Ray Quintero did two years ago. If he stays silent until spring like last year's crew, students will be forced once again to pay for an increase that does nothing to improve their sub-par education.

Daniel Scarpinaato is a journalism and political science senior. He can be reached at


Tuition hike? Have a Pepsi . . .

It seems obvious that if the university isn't getting the money it needs from the state, it has to be getting it from somewhere. It's no coincidence that at the same time we got hit by budget cuts, Likins proposed to cut or consolidate several programs and up efficiency.

But are the students the right people to hit up for money? Of course. Where else are we to look? Should we have a bake sale on a scale never before matched? Really, the only other solution is to sell our souls to the devil that is big business, and judging by the Dole vending machines and Pepsi logos on virtually everything around here, I suspect we've done enough of that already. For once, Likins isn't taking us a step closer to becoming a corporation rather than a place of learning (and if you look around the student union, bookstore or ILC, you'll see the campus is more and more about impressing the masses with shiny objects).

Yeah, tuition hikes will suck for many a student. They'll complain that public universities should be as nearly free as possible. However, that this is a state school doesn't mean quantity is more important than quality.

I for one would rather fork out the extra bucks than find a "proudly sponsored by Pepsi" seal in the bottom corner of my diploma.

Sabrina Noble is an English and creative writing senior. She can be reached at


Gear up, here we go again...

Put on the helmet and pads, get pumped up and ready to go. The annual tuition brawl is about to begin. Every year students and administrators battle over thoughts of raising tuition.

When the proposal comes out, everyone walks around shocked and appalled as if it is a surprise that it is happening. Chants of the "as nearly free as possible" line from our Arizona constitution concentrating on the "free" part, rather then the more important words "nearly" and "possible" ring out.

Well buck up, boys and girls that time is upon us, and this year it shouldn't be a surprise. Last year President Likins, the Arizona Board of Regents and everyone else involved with the hike made no secret in the fact they wanted to raise Arizona tuition to "the top of the bottom of one third" of all public universities in the country.

This is a practical goal for a state university system that is desperately in need of more money from the Legislature in order to keep the quality of education on the rise.

Having already been deemed reasonable by ABOR, this raise is more of a reality then some would like to admit. Instead of wasting energy protesting the tuition raise, spend energy on making sure the money your money goes where it belongs and where you think it would most benefit you.

Jason Poreda is a Political Science and Communication senior. He can be reached at


Don't just protest tuition, get involved

When some members of the Arizona Daily Wildcat staff interviewed President Likins in his office last Thursday, the question was asked: "President Likins, what you are saying is that for the rest of your term, there will be small tuition increases every year?"

He answered, "No, what I am saying is that there will be big tuition increases every year."

Likins has never been clearer about his intentions. As the leader of campus, he is responsible for keeping the UA afloat, for dealing with the cheap Legislature and for reshaping the university in accordance with his goals for Focused Excellence.

For students, it was a huge blow to realize that after coping with the recent 40 percent tuition hike, next year they will have to deal with another.

If you are a student who, come next April, will be protesting the Arizona Board of Regents tuition hearing, then listen up: Act now. The groups who protested last year missed the boat completely. Protesting on the day Regents set tuition is a waste of time.

Be productive. Work with the Associated Students of Arizona, whose job it is to lobby for students. Call up your student regents, and make them your best friends.

The point: Now is the time to proactively work on fighting for a smaller tuition increase next year.

Jessica Lee is an environmental science senior. She can be reached at


Let's pay for college, but not welfare

People can't always get what they want. Many UA students recently encountered this problem when attempting to talk their would-be professor into signing a form to get into an already-oversized class.

With recent state budget cuts, the money to pay for college must come from somewhere; the best way to deal with this is to force the students, who receive the benefits of education, to pay more of the costs.

If it were a simple matter of students paying for their education, there would hardly be a problem. But when students are required to pay a thousand dollars more than the year before, with at least half of that going to help other students, it seems much less reasonable and much more ridiculous.

Students come here to learn, not to pay for others to learn. Some people may be able to afford to pay others' way, and some of those may even be willing but for students who work a part-time job and struggle to keep up with their schoolwork while worrying about paying off college loans, a painful lesson in income redistribution isn't what's needed.

Take more money, but use it to reduce class sizes, improve classrooms and hire more professors not to reduce the cost of education for those who aren't "fortunate" enough to work through college.

Chad Mills is an electrical engineering and computer science sophomore. He can be reached at


Increase a necessary evil

The old saying, "If you give them an inch, they'll take a mile," is ringing true for students who struggled to scrape together this year's $1,000 tuition increase and were told by President Likins last week that they could expect more such increases in the future.

To some students who receive help from their parents, the tuition increase is pocket change, and those who rely on scholarships or financial aid don't feel it at all. The students who fall through the cracks are those who don't qualify for financial aid, but still struggle to pay tuition. They could work to pay it, but the number of hours they would have to spend flipping burgers wouldn't leave much time for studying.

In a perfect world, education would be free and the glass ceilings and social infrastructure that keep the disadvantaged down would be removed.

But, Arizona at least Arizona's legislature is far from perfect. As long as special interests and the wealthiest echelons of Arizona taxpayers take precedence over the American dream, tuition increases are probably a necessary evil to keep the quality of a UA education worth something.

Let's just hope the Board of Regents will do all they can to minimize those increases.

Kendrick Wilson is a political science junior. He can be reached at

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