Opinion: ASU is measured by whom it includes, but apparently not out-of-state students

ASU's administration must cut administrative costs and unnecessary spending to even out tuition costs

Tuition rates for the 2018-19 ASU school year were approved by the Arizona Board of Regents and sent out to all Sun Devil students in a school-wide statement in early April.

For most in-state ASU students, the message reaffirmed that tuition will not be going up for them next year. However, for out-of-state students, this is sadly not the case.

Although ASU, as a state university, is primarily meant to serve Arizona residents, if the University wants to keep its message of embracing as many students as possible, it needs to keep the cost of attending the University affordable for out-of-state students. 

In an earlier tuition statement from ASU President Michael Crow, specific numbers were released outlining a 3.5 percent tuition increase for out-of-state students as well as for international students.

 In-state students were not even completely spared from the increases; resident graduate students will see a 1.5 percent escalation.

Regarding next year's tuition, Crow said in a Board of Regents hearing on March 27 that the changes reflect "a number of financial issues in the last several years, including deep cuts by the state of Arizona to the funding of the core operating budget of the University."

"The approach that we take there is fairness,” Crow said to The State Press in March about out-of-state tuition. “Can we deliver a fantastic product, make the institution work well? But can we also be fair? We know that we can charge more. We know the market elasticity for our out-of-state tuition and international student tuition. For international students, we can charge a lot more, and we don’t. We don’t want to be in the game of exclusion."

With tuition rates mainly going up for out-of-state students, the University has created a path that will force it to choose between having a larger, more inclusive student populace from around the nation or having a student body predominantly representing Arizona. 

Tuition rates are going up all across the country. Four-year public colleges such as ASU on average have seen a 3.2 percent increase per year in tuition and fees from 2007-08 to 2017-18.

One of the many reasons for these increasing rates has been the increase in administrative personnel. From 1993 to 2009, Department of Education data found that administrative positions have grown by 60 percent at colleges and universities.

The increase in administrative personnel can be seen more closely in the California State University system. A California Polytechnic University professor found that the California State University system has seen a 221 percent increase in administration employees from 1975 to 2008. 

"Institutions do need to take a look at what they are spending money on," dean at Cape Cod Community College Christine McCarey said. "(The cuts) can't be made quickly. It has to be well thought (out)."

A frustrating aspect of the tuition issue for students has been the fact that costs are still going up even though legislative appropriations have risen concurrently. 

Legislative appropriations to higher education in 2015 is 10 times higher than it was in 1960 while in comparison, the military budget in that same time period is only 1.8 times greater.

This sadly means that even though this country is spending 10 times more in tuition than it did in 1960, it has correlated with instead of decreasing the rising cost of tuition.

"It's hard to make a quick decision overnight that could drastically change the operations of the institution without considering the long-term implications," McCarey said.

With that in mind, it will not be increased taxes or legislation that will decrease our costs in tuition. What is needed is a change in the mentality and salaries of those who run the universities. It is the only way for us to decrease the new astronomical price of tuition. 

ASU is a school that measures itself by who it includes and not who it excludes, but for all non-undergraduate in-state students, this reality is quite the opposite. ASU should do better to ensure that everyone who wants to be a Sun Devil can be. 

Reach the columnist at kbriley@asu.edu and on twitter @KokiRiley.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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