The Arizona Board of Regents voted Thursday to raise tuition at all three universities, a decision that will bring tuition and fees for in-state students at ASU to $10,002 for the 2013 school year.
Regents approved the 3 percent increase for ASU and UA and the 5 percent increase at NAU because of reduced funding from the state and a need to fund investments at the universities.
In the 2011 school year, tuition at ASU increased 20.4 percent and was about $3,000 more expensive last year than it was in 2008, the start of the economic recession that saw Arizona cut higher education spending by 50 percent, according to the ABOR meeting's tuition report.
Regent Anne Mariucci said these increases were hard to make at the time in the state’s economic environment.
“It was really difficult over the years having to raise tuition at a double digit rate,” she said.
The board is also sensitive to Arizona families’ economic burdens, Mariucci said.
Differential fees, room and board rates were improved for increases.
Mariucci said the Arizona university system will have to adjust to spending cuts, calling the decrease a “new, permanent reality.”
She said there is also the possibility of decreased federal funding as the government considers cuts to the Pell Grant program.
The tuition increases were approved unanimously for ASU and UA. Student Regent Tyler Bowyer abstained from the NAU vote.
Regent Mark Killian said he was dissatisfied with the necessity of raising tuition, but he was not opposed to the increase when he cast his positive vote.
“I believe … that the positions that we’re taking in raising tuition is in violation of Arizona’s constitution,” Killian said. “The Legislature has ignored the directive of the Constitution of investment in the universities.”
Killian said he is afraid Arizona’s higher education situation will drive judges to impose more taxes on Arizonans to meet the state government’s funding obligations.
Regent Dennis DeConcini joined Killian’s sentiments with one digression.
“Quite frankly, I hope a judge tells the Legislature they’re violating the constitution,” DeConcini said.
The regents said the growth of Arizona’s resources since the first days of the constitution should mean the state continues funding the universities, especially because the institutions have become a major driver of growth.
Mariucci said ABOR’s state funding proposal for fiscal year 2014 is persuasive, but all three university presidents spoke about the losses they will face if their requests are not approved. UA in particular faces a loss of accreditation if it doesn’t receive the $8 million it requested for its medical school.
The regents briefly addressed tuition for deferred action students during the meeting.
The board heard from several students who qualify for deferred action protection during the public comment period. All of them requested the board consider tuition solutions for students similar to them.
DeConcini requested that the board begin legal and financial inquiries into the feasibility of a tuition rate that is lower than out-of-state rates for these students.
Killian volunteered the Legislative Affairs committee to start working on DeConcini’s request and said recommendations could be delivered in the summer or early fall.
- ABOR elected its officers for next year. Regents Rick Myers and Killian will keep their respective positions of chairman and secretary. Killian will become vice chairman and Regent LuAnn Leonard will become treasurer.
- A bill drafted by Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) to prevent ABOR funds going to organizations outside its jurisdiction has been submitted to the governor. The bill will not prevent ABOR funding officially affiliated university organizations.
- ABOR is working on getting a bill passed that will allow medical marijuana on campus for research purposes. A previous bill banning medical marijuana on campus has interfered with university research efforts.