Tuition pre-payment bills pass House panel, advance to rules committees

By Beth Silver

Arizona Daily Wildcat

PHOENIX A second version of the tuition prepayment bill passed a House panel yesterday, giving the embattled legislation further inroads to final passage.

The House Public Institutions and Universities Committee endorsed the amendment 7-3 yesterday. The bill would allow parents to pay their child's tuition years before he or she enters college.

At the crux of the bill was a state guarantee that the family's early investment would cover tuition. But after lawmakers in the Senate and House altered the bill, that guarantee was taken out.

"If there's a guarantee, somebody's liable. That's something I'm not comfortable with," said Rep. Dan Schottel, R-Tucson. "I don't think the state wants to put itself in that position 20 years down the road."

If the bills pass, the state would take the prepaid tuition and invest it to keep up with tuition increases. If tuition increases exceeded the return on investments, parents would have to pay higher or additional monthly payments.

The program covers a contingency fund to cover such a scenario. So, parents would be responsible only when that dries up, said Ben Driggs, Arizona Students' Association delegate.

Although the original bills included $400,000 in state funds to get the program started, the latest amendments offer no state financial backing. Driggs said that money would have to come from a private bank willing to house the program.

The bills now have to pass rules committees and then will be heard by the full Senate and House.

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