Regents exploiting out-of-state students

Editor:

I want to set the record straight about the Board of Regents' decision to raise out-of-state tuition and fees by $478. Before you even include the $66 in fees for the Student Rec Center and the Financial Aid Trust, a $478 increase will put non-resident tuition at $7,912 in the fall.

By the Regents' own calculations, it will only cost them $7,691 to educate each student in Arizona. Therefore, non-resident students will be paying $221 more than it costs the universities to educate them─ the universities will literally turn a profit on non-resident students. I find that to be an inarguably bad policy, and I'll make no apologies for it. It's one thing to argue that the students should not subsidize the state. Yet that's exactly what they'll be doing next year.

The bottom line is that our universities are not for-profit ventures. They are the biggest and best draws in Arizona to attract the kind of new residents we all say we want─ educated people, looking for a place to settle down, get a good job, raise a family (and incidentally, pay taxes). Most out-of-state students who study in Arizona stay here after they graduate.

And contrary to what a recent letter-writer stated, out-of-state students do indeed pay taxes while they study in Arizona. No, not necessarily income taxes, but income taxes only account for a third of our tax base. They do pay sales taxes, energy taxes and their share of property taxes through the rent they pay.

It's easy to bash out-of-state students, to call them rich, spoiled children who can study in their home state if they don't like it here. But if non-resident students didn't pay so much, resident tuition wouldn't be $1,884 next year─ it would be much, much higher. No student should buy into the notion that exploiting non-resident students in the name of saving resident students is a good thing. It's a cynical, divide-and-conquer policy on the part of Arizona's power brokers. By turning students against one another, there will be less time and energy left for us to unify to hold them accountable.

The message the Regents and the Legislature have sent with next year's tuition rate is this: come to Arizona─ but only if you're rich. If you're a student, the worst thing you can do is echo this message.

Paul Allvin

Executive Director

Arizona Students' Association

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