Education is the most powerful safeguard to a Democracy. It is the responsibility of the state of Arizona and ASU to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the resources to attain an affordable education.
When the Arizona state government cuts ASU funding by approximately $53 million (like it did last year), the University administration is left with very few options: cut costs, reduce program expenditures or increase tuition.
ASU is already one of the most cost-efficient research universities in the country, allocating nearly 20 percent fewer resources per degree awarded than the national median. While it is good to know we are effectively using the funding we do have, it also means that cost cutting will not be an effective option going forward.
ASU administration has proposed a $200 increase to in-state tuition and a $1,000 increase to out-of-state and international student tuition for the 2016-17 academic year.
Increasing the cost of tuition is the last thing we would like to see happen, as every increase in cost can prevent a student from attending ASU or add to the already heavy student loan burden carried by many Sun Devils. But we are sympathetic to the hand that ASU was dealt. The budget cuts in 2015 were the largest 1-year percent change to university funding by a state in the U.S. — and by a significant margin.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, there are 15 states that currently spend less on higher education than they did five years ago and of those, Arizona is at the bottom of the list.
For the past five years, the Arizona state government has been deplorable in its appropriation commitment to state universities, which led to the largest disinvestment in higher education in the country. That is unacceptable.
If we want our state to succeed economically, it is imperative to educate our students to be competitive with the rest of the U.S. Furthermore, we will need to be able to attract bright students from out-of-state and abroad.
In order to do that, we will need to continue to improve the ASU education offered, while maintaining affordability.
Financial-aid investments are University funded, meaning that they compete directly with needs like faculty growth and student services. If we are to continue on our trajectory as a New American University, ASU will require the necessary funding from the Arizona state government to support students from both an educational standpoint, as well as a financial one.
ASU was named the most innovative school in the country in the wake of the most significant cuts to University funding in the U.S. Imagine what we could do with greater support from our elected officials.
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