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Opinion: The true cost of the fee increase is ASU's ideals

In reality, the tuition and fee increases go against ASU's charter


"The Arizona Board of Regents confirmed an increase in University tuition." Illustration published on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

Earlier this month, the Arizona Board of Regents confirmed an increase in University tuition: a 2.8%, or $876, increase for in-state students; a 4.8%, or $1,182, increase for out-of-state students; and a 5.3%, or $1,366 increase for international students. 

Read more: ABOR passes tuition, fee increase for Arizona Universities

There was also a lot of backlash regarding the $250 Barrett fee increase, which would require honors' students to pay $1000 per semester to be a part of Barrett, the Honors College, up from $750 in previous years. This increase, which was also approved by ABOR on April 11, was met with much criticism

In fact, almost 1,000 students signed a petition against the increase

With this wave of increases across ASU, a high quality education becomes less accessible to those students who may need it the most.

The main reason cited in the petition for opposing the 33% increase was a lack of transparency of where the fees were going and why such a fee hike is warranted. 

The petition also argued that the benefits students gain from being part of the college doesn't match the amount of money they spend on it, saying that the lack of awareness and subpar marketing about the student resources that Barrett offers often leads students to not take full advantage of them.

Nicole Morote, senate president pro tempore for Undergraduate Student Government Tempe, also said that the lack of transparency is a key reason for students' frustration. Morote had a hand in the resolution that pushed for additional transparency from Barrett regarding the fee increase.

"We don’t exactly know what money is going where," Morote said. "It’s hard for any student to know how we can keep college affordable if we don’t know what’s making it expensive."

Despite these tuition and fee increases, ASU maintains that it's still the most affordable public university in Arizona. But the increases may still impose a burden on many of the students struggling to pay their way through college. 

ASU’s charter states that, “ASU is a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but rather by whom it includes.” 

While University appears to place importance on its diversity, this same goal could be negatively impacted by the increases. 

A study published in 2018, conducted by Drew Allen and Gregory Wolniak, found that, “All else equal, a $1000 tuition increase at 4 year, non-selective public institutions is associated with a 4.5% drop in campus diversity among full-time freshmen.” 

Alongside these increases is the release of allegations that the University made a deal requiring students in its economics department to pay to turn in their homework. This only exacerbates the exclusivity of the University by placing hidden fees that may cause students to drop out if they cannot pay for their classes.

"That’s why I think that when these allegations came out they were so inflammatory," Morote said, explaining that it compounded the existing frustrations students already had regarding the tuition and fee increases.

With these increased tuition and fees and its impact on affordability, ASU seems to be abandoning its mission for inclusivity. Especially when attending college is becoming much more expensive, and thus more exclusive, it is important that ASU maintains its diversity in socioeconomic status, race and thought. 

Furthermore, ASU and its individual colleges must make the process more transparent. When so many ASU students are unaware of the various resources and services that are offered, it may demonstrate ASU's possible need to reallocate its funds to encourage better student participation and aid those who may be uniformed.  

Reach the columnist at or follow @aasheeni on Twitter.

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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