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Regents: 9.8 percent tuition hike

JOSH FIELDS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
The tuition proposal presented by Regents Fred Boice (above) and Bob Bulla was approved yesterday by the Arizona Board of Regents.
By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, March 11, 2005
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Regents nix Likins', students' proposals,

The Arizona Board of Regents raised tuition 9.8 percent for resident undergraduates yesterday, rejecting both student and administrative tuition proposals and instead approved an unexpected proposal released this week.

In a last-minute move, Regents Fred Boice and Bob Bulla drafted their own tuition proposal, which they said was intended to be a compromise between what students and university presidents recommended.

Tuition will increase by $396 for undergraduate residents, $4 less than what President Peter Likins asked for. But unlike Likins' proposal, the regents' proposal does not include a mandatory information technology fee.

Student Regent Wes McCalley motioned to pass the student tuition proposal, but adjusted the increase at UA South to $100. But the student proposal was rejected in a 6-3 vote.

Student Body President Alistair Chapman said he was disappointed in the outcome because although students were victorious in defeating the information technology fee, the regent tuition increase was closer to Likins' figure.

"Students got hit hard today," Chapman said. "It's not a middle ground."

Nonresident undergraduate tuition will increase by $500, or 3.9 percent, while graduate resident and nonresident tuition will increase by $600, or 13.9 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively.

Students at UA South will face the biggest surprise with a $100 tuition increase. Likins said he recommended a 0 percent tuition increase for the campus because it costs less to operate the campus and the students are generally older and have families.

Still, Likins said he was not surprised regents came up with their own proposal since in the past, even when Likins' proposals were approved, they were usually adjusted.

"Most of the time, I don't get what I want," Likins said.

The tuition increases will bring the UA slightly closer to the top of the bottom one-third of tuition rates compared to peer institutions, but Likins said the move would be slower than expected.

Although many regents praised student leaders for their proposal and for calling attention to the issue of course availability, students were unable to pass a $30 fee set-aside for course availability.

Non-voting Student Regent Ben Graff said the manner in which tuition dollars are used and allocated is important to students and funding for course availability was a "reasonable compromise."

Likins said if the governor's budget is passed by the Legislature, the UA will have enough revenue to commit $1 million to course availability issues, double the amount the student proposal promised.

Likins said that figure is not a guarantee because if the governor's budget is not passed, the UA will have to compensate for a number of shortfalls, such as $4 million for the Arizona State Retirement System.

"I don't want to be bound by that if something changes in the state Legislature," Likins said.

Chapman said at the least, he wanted a minimum dollar commitment from Likins because with no commitment at all, students might not see funding go toward course availability.

Brittany Garrett, an undeclared freshman, said she has no confidence in administrator's to spend tuition revenue wisely.

"I assume it's going to pay professors and teachers, but how would I know," she said.

Trish Scull, an engineering sophomore, said she was annoyed with the tuition increase.

"There's no point, especially after they just raised tuition a grand a couple years ago," Scull said. "What's the justification or the reasoning?"

Bulla said in a time of decreased state funding, the increased tuition is needed or students will lose out.

"The monies that were hoped for, for class availability may well diminish or disappear," Bulla said.

Likins pointed out increases in tuition have not shut out needy students or minorities from the UA because while tuition has gone up 66 percent, financial aid has increased 176 percent.

Four years ago, 46 percent of students at the UA were considered needy. The figure has remained steady at 47 percent this year.

The regents also moved to differentiate tuition between the three state universities and their branch campuses yesterday, keeping in line with the regent's Changing Directions initiative. The initiative allows the state universities to pursue diverse academic goals in manners they see fit.

At Arizona State University's main campus, tuition will be raised 8.4 percent, while tuition will go up 7.9 percent at Northern Arizona University. ASU West and East will see an increase of 6.9 percent and NAU Yuma will see an increase of 5.2 percent.

ASU President Michael Crow said the idea of differentiating tuition is the right move, and it also is the first step in redesigning higher education in Arizona, with the UA and ASU at higher tuition rates and focusing on research.

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