Incoming students will carry the brunt of the price increases next school year under ASU President Michael Crow’s latest tuition and fee proposal. The state’s three public universities have always set a single tuition rate for Arizona residents.
However, Crow and Northern Arizona University President John Haeger are asking the Arizona Board of Regents to charge new undergraduate students more than those already enrolled, according to proposals released Thursday.
At Arizona State University, incoming students would pay $5,759 in tuition and fees — about $350 more than existing students.
Total costs for current ASU students would climb 8.8 percent next fall; the university would charge new students 15.8 percent more.
ASU intends to use the tuition increase to collect financial aid for low-income students and expand academic programs, said Jim Rund, the university’s vice president for undergraduate initiatives.
“We’ve made an explicit set of promises to students,” Rund said.
If the regents approve Crow’s proposal, ASU plans to upgrade its advising system and provide enough sections of required classes to ensure students can graduate in four years. Crow also guarantees ASU will admit any Arizona resident who meets the minimum requirements into a master’s program.
The students, however, would prefer to just pay less in tuition, said Liz Simonhoff, ASU student body president.
ASU’s tuition and fees have nearly doubled the past six years.
The Arizona Students’ Association proposes ASU raise tuition 5 percent and lobby Gov. Janet Napolitano to have the state’s taxpayers pick up the rest of the bill.
“In the event that we don’t get any sort of (state) funding, we accept responsibility and students will pay,” Simonhoff said. “We just want students to be the last resort.”
Two years ago, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger provided that state’s university systems more than $100 million in surplus tax dollars to prevent steep fee increases.
Arizona’s Legislature has also used surpluses in recent years to give millions in new funding for higher education. ASU, in particular, has benefited as it received money to pay for its dramatic enrollment growth.
Lawmakers are unlikely to have any extra cash to divvy up this time.
State sales and income tax revenue has fallen below projections the past four months. And an analysis by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee found the economic situation appears to be worsening.
“Everybody’s telling me the revenue will have a significant shortfall,” said Ernest Calderón, a regent.
Jeanine L’Ecuyer, a Napolitano spokeswoman, said the governor is considering the students’ request. “Everything’s on the table. At this point, it’s just too soon to say what’s going to be in the universities’ budget,” L’Ecuyer said.
Lawmakers cut millions of dollars from the universities’ budgets in 2002 to close a massive shortfall in the state’s General Fund.
A year later, the regents added $1,010 in tuition and fees, raising the cost for in-state students 39 percent.
The regents have raised tuition each year since, but have become less willing to approve large increases.
Last December, the regents nearly approved a plan to forgo a tuition increase so long as the Legislature provided enough new funding to make up the difference.
Calderón voted for that measure, but said he doesn’t yet know if he will support the students’ proposal.
“I think that there’s some merit to it,” he said. “My concern is, what resources will the Legislature have this coming budget year?”
Rund said ASU officials hope Napolitano and the Legislature just agree to pay for the university’s growth.
Crow’s proposed cost increases include $200 in additional fees. Of that, $50 would go toward the university’s technology fee, which pays for computer hardware and software.
The largest fee increase — $150 — is to improve the quality of life on campus, Rund said.
“Our student health center on the Tempe campus is in a state of disrepair and has needed some degree of restoration and expansion for some time,” he said. “Our student union, obviously, needs immediate attention.”
A fire severely damaged the Memorial Union last week and it is unclear when the campus’ busiest building can reopen.
ASU has four campuses, but only the main campus has student amenities, like its gym and health clinic.
“These are things that enrich the academic life of the university and certainly enrich the students’ experience,” Rund said.
Crow’s proposal would increase tuition for out-of-state students to $17,697, a 5 percent jump.
Arizona resident graduate students’ tuition would increase 9 percent to $6,789; out-of-state graduate students’ tuition would climb 8 percent to $19,354.
The regents are hosting a hearing on the proposals for students Nov. 29. The hearing begins at 5 p.m. at ASU’s Old Main; each of the campuses will have a location where students can participate.
Regents will discuss the universities’ tuition and fees at their Dec. 6 meeting.