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Crow anticipates no additional cuts to state funding, minimal tuition increase

Photos by Beth Easterbrook

ASU President Michael Crow said the University expects no additional cuts to state funding in the next fiscal year and school officials are working to stabilize current tuition costs.

During a meeting with The State Press editorial board Tuesday, Crow said the positive gains in state revenue have University officials anticipating no slashes to University funding next year.

A report released by Arizona’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee last month showed general fund revenues exceeding last year’s revenues by 8.5 percent. The $1.53 billion collected so far tops projected year-to-date totals by $79.6 million.

In addition, fiscal year 2010-11 ended with more revenue than anticipated, resulting in a $300 million surplus, according to a JLBC report. The money will be available at the end of fiscal year 2011-12.

Crow said the University has made all necessary changes to absorb a $90 million cut in state funds for the current budget year. All three universities endured a total cut of $198 million.

“We made a number of decisions and all those decisions have been implemented, so in a sense we’re past that,” he said.

One of those cost-saving decisions was terminating more than 190 custodial staff members last spring and contracting private companies for janitorial services.

Arizona Students’ Association Board Chair Dan Fitzgibbon said the student lobbying group hopes the universities benefit from the $300 million surplus.

“We find ourselves at a crossroads now,” Fitzgibbon said.

He said the Legislature has a chance to let the universities do what they were meant to do — drive the economy.

Even though students at ASA are breathing a sigh of relief over seemingly good news for the state’s economy, Fitzgibbon said the work isn’t done. The group will continue advocating for the universities at the Capitol, he said.

Crow also said University officials plan to keep tuition increases as low as possible with an ultimate goal of no tuition raises.

“We’ve set a maximum planning target of 3 percent and a desired target of 0 percent,” he said.

In an email, ASU spokeswoman Sharon Keeler said the increase range refers to all in-state undergraduate students, however, the specifics of the proposed targets are still being developed.

Tuition for freshman in-state students increased about 18 percent this year from the 2010 school year, jumping from $7,793 to $9,208.

Arizona Board of Regents president Tom Anderes noted there is a relationship between tuition increases and budget reductions.

The universities have endured $428 million in state funding cuts since 2008. During this period, freshman in-state tuition for Tempe campus students has increased from $5,410 to $9,208.

The Board does not anticipate reductions for fiscal year 2013, Anderes said. Therefore, the assumption is tuition should not be going up.

Crow added there’s difficulty with not increasing tuition. If tuition is not adjusted for inflation indicated by the Higher Education Price Index, it might result in a net loss for the University.

“We’re doing everything we can to see if we can get in at a zero,” he said.


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