For the first time in years, most students at the Arizona’s three universities won’t have to dig deeper to attend classes.
Recommendations released from the three university presidents call for no change in tuition for continuing full-time Arizona residents. But for students at the University of Arizona and current freshmen at Northern Arizona University, there may be less there than meets the eye. Their bills for the coming year will, in fact, be higher.
Friday’s recommendations come on the heels of a request by Gov. Jan Brewer for a modest increase in state aid to the schools. The spending plan crafted by the Republican legislative majority does not include those funds. But lawmakers, for the first time in years, also are not proposing to slash university funding. New freshmen this fall, however, will be paying rates about 3 percent higher than continuing students.
As crafted, resident undergraduate tuition at UA will remain $10,035. That follows a pair of 20-plus percent increases in the last two years. In fact, though, students have actually paid less this year. That is because the Board of Regents told UA officials while they can set their rates that high, they also had to provide $750 rebates.
Put another way, students are now paying $9,285. Assuming there is no new rebate, they will be charged the full $10,035 this coming year, an 8.1 percent increase. That same situation exists at UA South. Officially, tuition remains at $7,941. But here, too, resident undergraduate students got that same $750 rebate which pushed actual out-of-pocket expenses this year down to $7,191.
A rebate also comes into play at Northern Arizona University, though the situation is a bit more complex. NAU has put students into a fixed-price program automatically for the last five years. So students who began their education this past fall were guaranteed tuition and fees of $8,824 for eight semesters.
The regents, however, directed NAU to provide a $350 rebate — but only to incoming freshmen, dropping their effective tuition to $8,474. If there is no rebate this year, they will have to pay $8,824 as sophomores. But rates for incoming juniors, where there was no rebate, will remain at $7,779; seniors will pay $6,906.
At Arizona State University, where students entering each year were given guaranteed rates, there will be no change. Those rates range from $8,228 to $9,208. ASU also intends to hold the line for incoming students who will pay that same $9,208 figure. That, however, is not the case elsewhere. At the UA, tuition and mandatory fees for undergraduates will be $10,308. For UA South, the proposal is $8,164.
New NAU freshmen will face tuition and fees of $9,271. While that is a 5 percent increase over current students, higher than proposed at the other two schools, that rate is guaranteed not to change over four years. The recommendations pleased Dan Fitzgibbon, chairman of the Arizona Students Association, especially coming on the heels of last year’s big hike.
“Some students and families have been completely priced out of a higher education,” he said in a prepared statement. He said the proposals show that “students may no longer have to make the terrible decision about whether or not to leave school because of skyrocketing tuition and fees.”
The final decision rests with the regents who will meet April 5 and 6 at the University of Arizona. Prior to that, the regents have set up an interactive videoconference hearing from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 28 at locations on all three campuses where students and others can comment. But there is another factor, outside the control of the regents and the universities, that could have at least an indirect bearing on tuition.
Earlier this week the House Appropriations Committee approved a measure designed to prevent most students with financial needs from getting a full ride for their tuition. It would mandate that virtually all students have to pay at least $2,000 a year toward their education, money that could be borrowed but not made up with Pell grants.
The legislation, which awaits action by the full House, contains exceptions for students with athletic scholarships or similar grants for special abilities. And Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, promised to amend the legislation to say the mandate does not apply for students who are not living at home and have expenses for room and board.
Other proposed tuition rates:
University of Arizona:
undergraduate non-resident — $26,231, up 2.9 percent
graduate resident — $11,122, up 2.7 percent
graduate non-resident — $26,533, up 2.9 percent
University of Arizona South:
undergraduate non-resident — $25,808, up 2.9 percent
graduate resident — $10,390, up 2.9 percent
graduate non-resident — $26,110, up 2.9 percent
Arizona State University:
undergraduate non-resident — $22,461, up 3 percent
undergraduate non-resident at Polytech and ASU West with certain majors — $20,215, up 3 percent
undergraduate residents, Lake Havasu — $6,000, new program
graduate resident — $10,000, up 3 percent
graduate non-resident — $24,548, up 3 percent
Northern Arizona University (main campus):
undergraduate non-resident –$21,626, up 2 percent but locked for 8 semesters
graduate resident — $8,378, up 5 percent
graduate non-resident — $19,472, up 3 percent
Northern Arizona University Yuma and extended campus:
resident undergraduate — $6,508, up 3 percent
resident graduate — $7,767, up 5 percent
non-resident undergraduate — $18,190, up 3 percent
non-resident graduate — $18,861, up 3 percent
Northern Arizona University Yavapai
resident undergraduate — $4,948, up 3 percent