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ASU halves proposed surcharge

ASU revised its tuition surcharge proposal on Wednesday, requesting a $300-per-semester charge for all resident students and $400-per- semester charge for all out-of-state students.

The new costs are down from the University’s original proposal of $600 per semester for all students.

“The reduction … is based on the projection that the total amount of stimulus funding available to ASU … will be almost $60 million more than was projected earlier,” ASU President Michael Crow said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

The University is still prepared to absorb a $45 million reduction in state funding this year, Crow said.

As with the original proposal, a percentage of the surcharge funds will go to financial aid. The Arizona Board of Regents requires at least 17 percent of tuition revenue to go toward financial aid, but Crow said an additional amount would be set aside to ensure access to ASU is maintained.

University Planner Rich Stanley said a larger amount of anticipated stimulus money means the University can maintain a high level of quality without requiring as much money from students.

“There are indications that the amount of stimulus funds that will be available … will be greater than what we had originally anticipated,” he said. “We thought it was appropriate to adjust the recommendation.”

The notion that ASU will receive more stimulus money came from continuing discussions with state officials, he said.

But, he added, nothing is definite.

“It’s all indicators rather than certainties,” he said. “[But] they were sufficiently positive for us to make that change.”

A set of assumptions about the budget and stimulus were used to create the initial $600 proposal, Stanley said, but although assumptions have changed, the reasoning is the same.

“The argument that we’ve always made about the need for the surcharge was that there was a specific level of target funding that we didn’t feel we could drop below,” he said. “We just couldn’t figure out a way to go below that without having to really damage the quality of the place.”

The new proposal, at $600 per year, puts ASU’s requested surcharge about $500 per year less than UA’s proposed surcharge and $250 per year more than NAU’s. Regents are expected to vote on each university’s tuition surcharge proposal at their meeting Thursday at UA.

While students may feel relief with a lower surcharge, some say it’s not enough.

“It’s fantastic news that the administration realizes that $1,200 a year would’ve been unaffordable,” said Andrew Rigazio, a board member of the Arizona Students’ Association, “[but] the concerns we have now are the same as those we had before.”

The concerns include uncertainty with the state’s budget for next year, and a fear that ASU could stray from its predictable tuition model, he said.

ASU Undergraduate Student Government President Mark Appleton said the new proposal is better but not a perfect solution.

“It’s a fine line to balance. I’m ecstatic that it’s been halved,” he said. “That doesn’t mean the state should be let off the hook completely just because the University is willing to make a compromise.”

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