TUCSON - College students around the state will be paying hundreds — and in some cases, thousands — of dollars more to go to school this fall.
The Arizona Board of Regents voted unanimously Thursday not only to raise tuition for undergraduate and graduate students at all three state universities, but also to boost a host of other fees such as rent for student housing and prices for dorm food.
In the face of criticism from some lawmakers about rising tuition, Arizona State University also announced Thursday it will begin paying all tuition and student housing costs for freshmen whose families earn less than about $19,000 a year.
For ASU, the tuition increase begins at 8.4 percent for resident undergraduate tuition and balloons to 16.8 percent for out-of-state undergraduates.
ASU resident undergraduates will pay $4,404 a year in the fall, an increase of $342.
Out-of-state undergraduates already enrolled at ASU can expect to pay $13,908 per year, an increase of $1,090.
First-time undergraduates who come from out of state will face the steepest hikes of all. Beginning in the fall, they will pay $15,000 a year, a jump of $2,172.
ASU resident undergraduate students at ASU’s East and West campuses will pay $50 less per year than their counterparts at the main campus in Tempe.
Rental rates at 11 ASU student housing facilities will go up $237 to $533 per year, which will mean annual costs will range from about $3,555 to $7,633.
Other fees include the cost of dorm food and fees associated with financial aid.
More increases are expected next month when the regents meet in Tempe, according to Paul Allvin, a spokesman for the University of Arizona.
ASU President Michael Crow told the regents that higher tuition is needed in order to provide more financial aid to students. He has expressed concern that the Legislature does not provide enough money to adequately cover the need so universities themselves must contribute more.
A report prepared by the regents’ staff says part of the tuition increase will be used to pay off debt. This year, the amount of tuition money that has gone to pay debt totaled about $61.2 million for all three universities.
In recent weeks, lawmakers have moved toward capping funding for students who take too many classes beyond what’s needed for a four-year degree. Legislative leaders have raised concerns about steady increases in tuition over the past few years.
Last year, tuition jumped 13.1 percent at ASU and the year before it shot up 39.1 percent. Overall, tuition for ASU undergraduates has skyrocketed 73 percent between fall 2000 and fall 2004.
Board of Regents President Gary Stuart said after the vote that he is aware of legislators’ unhappiness with tuition hikes and that he also is concerned. But, he said, it is the regents’ job, not legislators, to set tuition.
"They’re not educators," he said.
Stuart said lawmakers don’t realize what’s involved in hiring professors, determining salaries and running universities.
Today, the regents are expected to vote on whether to create two new schools at ASU — the Virginia C. Piper Center for Creative Writing and the School for Global Studies. ASU also wants to create new bachelor’s degrees in liberal studies, tourism development and management, and global studies.