Only days after the Arizona House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would require a minimum tuition contribution of $2,000 for in-state undergraduate students, ASU President Michael Crow released a recommendation of a 3 percent tuition increase for out-of-state undergraduate students.
The recommendation, which now goes to the Arizona Board of Regents, also includes a 3 percent increase on all graduate students, according to a press release.
“It is very good news that we’ve been able to derive a financial model that greatly limits our tuition increase this year,” Crow said in a recorded announcement included in the electronic release, adding that the choice to increase tuition was “not an easy decision.”
The proposed increase will amount to between $568 and $654 for out-of-state undergraduate students, $291 for in-state graduate students and $715 for out-of-state graduate students, according to the release.
USGD President Joseph Grossman said Crow had originally proposed a 3 percent increase across the board, but that he fought to bring that number down along with other fees.
During his campaign for election last year, Grossman ran on a platform in adamant opposition to any tuition increases. He said securing no increase for the approximately 75 percent of students who are in-state residents was a small victory.
“I would say I succeeded,” Grossman said. “I fought for a whole year … to be able to make sure no in-state students had a tuition increase.”
Arizona Students’ Association chairman Dan Fitzgibbon, a University of Arizona student, said he liked the proposal and saw the lack of an increase for in-state tuition as a positive sign for students.
“It’s the spirit of keeping things a little more affordable after dramatic increases in the last 4 or 5 years,” Fitzgibbon said. “It’s a little bit of a different direction in getting students access to them (the universities) and it’s marking a change in direction.”
Fitzgibbon said keeping tuition reasonably low was a matter of self-preservation for universities. With excessively high tuition, Arizona universities would longer be a competitive option for students, he said.
“You could have the best university in the history of man but if nobody has access to it, what’s the point? It’s unsustainable,” he said. “They’re getting to the edge of what they can charge or they’ll price themselves out of the market. Students really needed a break.”
Despite the good news for in-state students next year, Arizona universities could face a challenge in fiscal year 2014, when the state’s temporary sales tax is set to expire. If the tax is not continued, the state will lose the $900 million it generates annually and universities will likely face budget cuts.
Fitzgibbon said ASA is working with the state to find other sources of revenue for universities for 2014. He said he was unsure if state universities would have to hike tuition again if the tax expires.
Giditu Diriba, an in-state health policy freshman, said she was glad that there was no increase for in-state tuition, even though she has a tuition waiver scholarship.
“I suppose it doesn’t concern me as much, but … the fact that nothing’s happening to it, it’s a relief,” she said.
Marcos Martinez, an out-of-state doctoral student in the School of Social Work, said he was upset that out-of-state students receive larger tuition increases on top of their much higher tuition costs.
“With tuition already being over $20,000 for out-of-state students … which is comparable to some private universities … I’m kind of angry about that,” he said, adding that his undergraduate tuition at a private university was about $24,000.
Martinez said he believes universities should try to make tuition more equal for in-state and out-of-state students because students from other states provide a stimulus to the university and to the local economy.
A tuition hearing will take place in the Nursing and Health Innovation II building on March 28, and the ABOR will vote on the recommendation the following week.
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Jack Fitzpatrick and Connor Radnovich contributed to this report.