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Tuition, med school topics for regents

By Zach Colick and Nick Smith
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 29, 2005
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The prospects of expanding the UA's medical school to Phoenix and raising tuition dollars will be on the minds of Arizona Board of Regents members who are meeting today and tomorrow to discuss such issues in Flagstaff.

The 10 voting regents will discuss general considerations and the effects about a possible tuition increase, but they will not vote on the matter because it's still early in the school year and it would be in violation of tuition setting processes, said Student Regent Ben Graff.

"We won't set any policy or bring the talks in a certain direction. It's all theoretical," said Graff, a third-year law student, adding that a university president must wait until the second semester to make a tuition setting proposal and then have students voice their concerns about it.

Graff said it's too early to tell if there will be a possible tuition increase for next year but wouldn't rule out the possibility of some form of increase.

To prevent students from dishing out more money to pay for their education, the regents are working closely with the state Legislature, encouraging them to allocate more of their funding for students so they can have the opportunity to attend one of the state universities, Graff said.

"We hope to show the state Legislature what kind of impact they can have on the cost of education," Graff said. "The state Legislature values education, and we hope they can act on it."

Tuition increases also have their benefits, Graff said, as the money goes directly to help students in need of financial aid and more class availability with smaller classroom sizes.

If the regents consider a tuition freeze, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona would not support it, said Erin Hertzog, ASUA executive vice president.

"It could be a good plan, but there's no structure to it," said Hertzog, a journalism junior.

The UA will have the most to lose from a tuition freeze because the new president will not have adequate funds to work with, Hertzog said.

Instead of keeping tuition at the same level, ASUA would like to see a gradual increase in order to keep up with university budget needs.

Students like Randy Vasquez think a tuition freeze would help students afford college.

"I think it's good for the undergraduates," said Vasquez, a nutritional sciences graduate student. "I was in the same boat while I was studying for my bachelor's."

Undergraduates on scholarship like Cara Ammann are also concerned with rising tuition.

"It's beginning to get completely unaffordable," said Ammann, a classics senior.

If Ammann were not on scholarship, she would be forced to take out loans to continue her education, she said.

Another major issue on the agenda is the expansion of a medical center in Phoenix.

The UA and Arizona State University are requesting a budget expansion of the Arizona Biomedical Research Collaborative building, which will house cancer and diabetic research.

If the request is approved the universities will be allowed to sell no more than $33 million in certificates of participation to fund the project, according to the board of regents' agenda.

About 150 students graduate from the UA medical school each year, and because of the lack of classroom space and the amount of professors to graduate future doctors, Graff said he hopes an expansion of the medical school to Phoenix would bring the figure to more than 250 graduating students a year.

Thus far, Gov. Janet Napolitano has given financial support with a $7 million grant toward opening classroom doors in Phoenix, an amount Graff said is "a small amount for a very large capital project" but still encouraging.

Graff said the expansion would also give students a choice of where to attend medical schools and that each school would provide special areas of study.

"This creates both a partnership with ASU and a more collegiate atmosphere in Arizona, and gives students more opportunities," Graff said. "This would be a huge benefit to the state."

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