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More fees, less financial aid proposed to deal with cuts

With $90 million cut in state funding this year, ASU is prepared to lose $50 million and to recover the rest through new fees and a tuition surcharge, President Michael Crow told the Arizona Board of Regents on Thursday.

Crow told members of ABOR’s Tuition Task Force that, if approved, the remaining $40 million in revenue would come, in part, from program fees in colleges that have the highest cost per student, including nursing, engineering, science, business and design.

The University would also implement a student health fee to cover the costs of health services on campus, and an economic recovery surcharge to remain in place until state funding levels are restored.

“We can say with confidence that we can continue to maintain

... excellence and access to the institution [with this proposal],” Crow said.

The prices of the fees and tuition surcharge are expected to be released Friday by all three universities.

Without the $40 million expected to be recovered through his plan, Crow said the University would have to take even further drastic measures than it already has.

In addition to the reduction of 900 staff members so far this year, the University would have to reduce several hundred more staff members and eliminate more than 5,000 in-state merit-based scholarships unless it finds another source of revenue, he said.

“It would be a dramatically different institution in every way,” he said.

Additionally, he said certain colleges could be forced to reduce the number of students they accept if they do not receive student fee increases.

“We’re in a financial situation that appears to be a once-in-a-hundred-year event,” Crow said. “When the economy recovers, hopefully the surcharge can be eliminated.”

To ensure that the surcharge is not permanent, student Regent Ross Meyer suggested that the board review the effectiveness and necessity of a surcharge at every tuition-setting meeting, held in December each year.

Regent Ernest Calderón, chairman of the Tuition Task Force, agreed, saying the surcharge must always be a point of discussion.

“We shouldn’t be doing this automatically,” he said. “We should be reviewing this thing all the time.”

Calderón added that the ABOR meeting at the end of April would include energetic discussions of tuition policy changes and tuition surcharges.

With the presidents expected to announce their specific proposals Friday, Calderón and Regent Dennis DeConcini praised the transparent nature of the universities’ revenue-adjustment procedures.

“I’m deeply impressed by the amount of transparency that we’ve gone through here,” DeConcini said.

Hefty tuition increases and fees are likely to be imposed, he said, because they are necessary at this time.

“I suspect that the students are not going to like what’s going to happen, and I cannot say I blame them,” he said. “[But] if that occurs, that doesn’t mean there isn’t transparency.”

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