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Arizona Attorney General sues Board of Regents over 'unconstitutional' raises in tuition

The suit claims that the regents have dramatically and unconstitutionally raised tuition over the last 15 years

Tuition ABOR.jpg

(From left to right) Student Regent Mark Naufel, Chair Mark Killian, Vice Chair Jay Heiler and ASU President Michael Crow on Monday, April 20, 2015 at the Memorial Union in Tempe. Arizona Board of Regents had a meeting for an interactive discussion about raising tuition at ASU, UA and NAU. 

The Arizona Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents, claiming that the regents have "dramatically and unconstitutionally" increased tuition at Arizona's public universities over the last 15 years. 

The suit, which was filed on Friday, claims that the regents have misinterpreted the Arizona Constitution's requirement for public university tuition to be "as nearly free as possible," instead making tuition "affordable." 

According to the suit, ABOR has considered the national market and availability of student loans, both of which focus on what a student can afford, rather than the actual costs of "furnishing instruction."

The suit also contends that the granting of in-state tuition to students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or "Dreamers," is to blame for "illegal expenditure of public monies." 

In June, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that migrants under DACA were not eligible for in-state tuition, overturning a 2015 ruling that they were. 

The regents announced in June that they would continue to grant in-state tuition until a decision was reached by the Arizona Supreme Court. A month later, the attorney general warned that state universities may be at risk of improper expenditures due to their decision.

Along with this, the attorney general accuses the regents of unlawfully charging online and part-time students, who pay fees other than instruction – such as athletics or health fees. 

ASU's tuition and fees for undergraduate in-state students totaled $10,792 for the 2017-18 school year, a 315 percent increase from the 2002-03 school year. The suit claims ABOR has raised tuition "approximately nine to ten times the rate of inflation," in that same time period. 

Sarah Harper, public information officer for ABOR, said in a statement that as of 3:54 on Friday afternoon, they had not yet been served the complaint. 

"The Arizona Board of Regents has read in news stories about Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s lawsuit against the board. The board has not yet been served with the complaint." Harper said in the statement. "The board will receive legal advice during executive session in a special meeting on Monday, Sept. 11 at 3:45." 

ASU Media Relations did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

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