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ASU tuition proposal for 2017-18 would increase cost for all students

The proposal could result in the lowest tuition for an incoming resident student at any of the three state universities

ASU President Michael Crow meets with The State Press editorial board in a conference room in the Fulton Center on the Tempe campus on March 2, 2017.
ASU President Michael Crow meets with The State Press editorial board in a conference room in the Fulton Center on the Tempe campus on March 2, 2017.

All ASU students could see an increase to their tuition under a proposal by ASU President Michael Crow released by the Arizona Board of Regents Friday.

In the proposal, Crow said beginning in the 2017-18 academic year in-state tuition would increase by 1.5 percent, out-of-state tuition would increase by 3.5 percent and international students' tuition would increase by 4.5 percent.

ABOR released tuition proposals from the presidents of all three public Arizona universities on Friday. It will be seeking comment from students, faculty and the community over the next two weeks. 

ABOR is then expected to set the final tuition and fees for the 2017-18 academic year on Thursday, April 6.

"In setting tuition, the board considers numerous factors including input received from students to shape their request along with data related to financial aid, the tuition of peer universities across the country and resources required to meet the universities’ performance goals," ABOR said in the statement

According to ASU's webpage for the 2017-18 tuition proposal, the 1.5 percent tuition increase would amount to $150 per year for resident undergraduate students. The 1.5 percent tuition increase would also amount to $160 for resident graduate students.   

For non-resident undergraduate and graduate students, as a result of the 3.5 percent increase, tuition would increase by $900 and $990, respectively.

For international undergraduate and graduate students, as a result of a 4.5 percent increase, tuition would increase by $1,240 and $1,350, respectively.

In-state tuition

In a meeting with members of The State Press editorial board on March 2, Crow said the University is currently four years into a 10-year pledge to not raise tuition for in-state students more than three percent each year.

Crow said the tuition increases for in-state students over the past four years have averaged to about 1.7 percent, and that this year’s increase was done to balance affordability for students with University progress.

“For in-state students, we are running the institution under the assumption that we’re trying to make it as close to free as possible,” he said. “It’s the lowest possible tuition increase that allows us to continue to have forward movement.”

Crow said the tuition increase will leave ASU's status unchanged when it comes to being the most affordable institution for incoming resident students.

“That will then net result for us the lowest tuition for an incoming student at the three Arizona universities because we (already have) lowest tuition for an incoming student from an in-state perspective, at the Arizona universities,” he said.

Out-of-state tuition

Unlike the in-state tuition proposal, Crow said the University has no obligation under Arizona state law to provide the same deal for out-of-state and international students.

“Now, out-of-state students and international students — we do not have a constitutional obligation to offer them something as close to free as possible,” he said.

Crow said the decisions behind the tuition proposal for out-of-state and international students were partly market-based.

“We try to keep the out-of-state tuition at or below the 50th percentile of out-of-state tuitions of all universities,” he said. “Several schools are accelerating their tuition costs for international students, dramatically. We’re not doing that but it tells us that the market for international students can afford a little bit higher price.”

Crow said the increases were also adjusted to counter inflation, which left ASU’s in-state tuition below the higher education price index and the out-of-state/international tuition slightly above.

No cuts to programs, despite legislative pressure

The tuition increases also partly came in response to budget cuts from the state legislature, Crow said.

“We have had dramatic cuts from the state that are still not recovered,” he said. “So we’ve had $260 million dollars cut from the base budget of the university in the last eight years … Those levels of loss would require tuition increases of 25 percent — and so we’re not proposing tuition increases of 25 percent.”

Crow also said there will be no cuts to programs and even though multiple-year proposals have been desired, none could be implemented.

“We’re not adjusting anything, we’re not eliminating any services, we’re not reducing any services, we’re maintaining or expanding all services,” he said. “We wish that we could put in place multiple-year proposals where we could say your tuition will go up one percent a year for three years or two percent a year for two years or something like that but the board doesn’t operate that way.”

Some students are calling for a tuition freeze

There have been recent efforts from some student groups on campus calling for a tuition freeze. In late January, a letter, signed by ASU Young DemocratsStudents for a Democratic Society and United Students against Sweatshops at ASU was penned to Michael Crow asking for a tuition freeze and for him to forgo any bonuses to his salary.

“Recent tuition hikes have put a squeeze on the student body here at ASU, diminished access to education and prevented academic success,” part of the letter states. “In light of these hikes, we ask that an indefinite freeze is placed on tuition until a permanent solution can be decided upon with student input. As cost of living rises, especially on campus, increased tuition and new fees have hurt students, not helped them. As the president of an academic institution, you should keep the economic well-being of students in mind.”

Two tuition freeze protests headed by SDS were held over two weeks in January. 

SDS chair Fallon Leyba told The State Press in late January that ASU is prioritizing profits over students.

“There’s been a lot of tension on campus surrounding this issue for a while — just in terms of tension around tuition hikes and also these fees that have started to become the norm,” Leyba said. “What we’ve seen happen is that … ASU has become more focused on profits, or at least moving toward that model.”

Felina Rodriguez, president of USAS at ASU, one of the on-campus groups that participated in the tuition freeze protests, also told The State Press in late-January that ASU should be more transparent with where the tuition costs are going.

“Yes, ASU’s tuition is significantly lower, but … there’s all our excess fees that aren’t fully explained as to where they go, and what they’re used for or why they’re necessary,” Rodriguez said.

In response to the recent tuition freeze efforts, Crow said the University does what it can to be as affordable as possible to students from families across the socioeconomic spectrum.

“Now, there are some student groups that have asked for no tuition increases, they don’t want any tuition increases,” Crow said. “They’ll say ‘you’re leaving out the poor and the middle class’ and we’ll say ‘... it’s actually not true. That’s not a conclusion that could be drawn.’”

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