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Program fees not a focus for NAU, ASU

By Jennifer Amsler
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
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All three Arizona universities proposed tuition hikes last week, but while the UA's plan calls for numerous undergraduate program fees, NAU and ASU tuition proposals are not suggesting as many additional costs.

The only program fee Arizona State University is seeking for undergraduates is $1,000 from each student in the Barrett Honor's College. Northern Arizona University's undergraduates do not pay program fees in any college, and administration will not consider them anytime soon, said Ronald Pitt, NAU's associate provost for academic administration.

If President Peter Likins' tuition proposal passes, undergraduates in the College of Engineering and the College of Architecture could start paying hefty programs fees. The tuition proposal also calls for a $230 program fee increase for undergraduates in the Eller College of Management.

Ben Graff, a non-voting student regent, said all three universities began considering college fees when the Eller College of Management proposed a program fee for technology improvements to regents in 2003.

In 2003, regents approved a $500 program fee for both undergraduate business colleges at the UA and ASU.

Although all three state universities have seen a decline in state funding, NAU was not effected by it as much because student enrollment has declined for seven consecutive years, Pitt said.

However, Pitt said a recent enrollment increase in both fall and spring semesters are leading NAU administration to start considering other ways of finding money besides state funding.

NAU will need more money than past years but administrators have not yet turned to program fees for undergraduates, although all college programs could use the extra revenue, Pitt said.

"The state funding has not kept pace with the cost of education," Pitt said.

Pitt said the College of Nursing and the College of Dental Hygiene would probably be the first to see program fees if NAU chooses to propose them to regents in the next few years.

"We are under intense pressure to increase graduates from the College of Nursing," he said.

Pitt said for NAU students to be supportive of program fees, the administration would have to carefully explain why additional funds are needed and what exactly it would be used for.

Graff said administrators should communicate efficiently with students so they understand why certain colleges are asking for program fees.

"The more students can be informed where the money is going, the more supportive they will be," Graff said.

Likins' is proposing to increase the Eller College of Management's fee to $750 but ASU will not ask for an increase for their business college.

Graff said the reason for the Eller College of Management's request for program fees relates back to staying competitive with other business colleges.

Philip Regier, ASU's deputy dean of the W.P. Carey School of Business, said they would not increase their $500 program fee until they've fulfilled student requests administration promised when the original fee was implemented.

"A program fee increase would be premature," Regier said. "We haven't built up what we want to build up."

ASU's business college promised undergraduates the revenue generated from the fee would go toward financial aid and scholarships, a career center building, improvements to orientation, technology enhancements and more qualified teachers, Regier said.

ASU's Honors College could soon get $1,000 per undergraduate if regents pass it at the March meeting.

Graff said program fees seem to be catching on quickly with colleges in need of funds, but said he is concerned about low-income students who will avoid choosing a major because of additional costs.

Graff said one problem with program fees is "tuition is a deceiving number in terms of cost to education.

"Students could potentially have to decide on what major they can afford instead of a route based on their interests or on how to better themselves," Graff said.

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