Giant tuition hike coming – where are the students?

tuitionBecky Pallack at the Star has been doing a good job on her Campus Correspondent blog highlighting the fact that undergrads at UA are facing a tuition and fee increase next year of nearly $2,000 (up from the nearly $550 tuition and fee increase they had this year and the $766 tacked-on “tuition surcharge”), but for some reason, this news has not made the printed paper, so folks may not know that they should be concerned.

I guess if you don’t mind going hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt or if your parents are rich enough to foot the bill, you have no concern. But if, like a few students I know, you will have to drop out of school because you know carrying $17,000 in debt (see bottom of this post) is a really bad idea and you’re caught in the financial-aid middle of parents making too much money for you to qualify for grants or need-based scholarships but not enough money to pay for their mortgage, car payments, health care, job retraining, etc. and cover the rumored hike – you may want to pay attention. And, for goodness sake, launch a massive protest.

The president’s proposals for saving their universities via tuition increases are due to the Arizona Board of Regents this Friday and will be made public at noon here. According to Pallack’s blog here, here and most importantly here, tuition will be up to at least $9,000 in 2011-12, which, one may guess, means it might jump to $8,000 for next year. That doesn’t count the hundreds of dollars of fees or the “temporary” surcharge, which two of the best unpaid investigative reporters in town do a bang-up job of reporting on – and revealing the nasty little secrets about – at The Desert Lamp here and here, respectively.

The increase may actually be worse than rumors. According to an anonymous professor at one of Arizona’s universities, for every $200 in tuition increases, based on UA’s current number of students and a financial-aid mix I don’t fully understand, the UA gets about $4 million in revenue. Since the state cut nearly $100 million from its funding of UA in the past two years and UA says they’ve absorbed $40 million through mergers and program cuts (see UA organizational chart before the 2-year Transformation Process and after), that leaves about $60 million UA has to raise through additional revenue. Using the figures above, that means tuition would have to increase about $3,000 per student over the next 2 years, if enrollment stays static. Of course, UA assumes an increase in enrollment – but with a huge tuition hike and the job situation in the toilet, maybe they won’t see an enrollment increase. (And please, do not be impressed with the university presidents saying they will also increase financial aid when they hike tuition. Their definition of “financial aid” includes loans, which, as anyone paying on a mortgage will tell you, is debt, not aid. Grants and merit or need-based scholarships are aid – meaning help. Loans are “help” you have to pay for, with interest, for a long time after you graduate.)

Keep in mind that UA has increased tuition and fees more each year of the past decade. UA officials blame this on the state’s lack of funding, although one could rightly argue that building fancy rec centers, dorms and hiring a VP for Health Affairs at $650,000 (and adding all these financial perks) could also have something to do with it. Looking back a couple years, I reported that UA, which rightly states that its tuition is still at the top of the bottom one-third of tuitions among peer universities, nonetheless has tuition hikes that are higher than average in the nation. Keep in mind also, that UA stands alone among the three universities in not offering some version of a fixed tuition or guaranteed tuition plan for students already on campus.

So, worried yet? Angry? You should be – and not just at the legislature for hacking their support of education (which does indeed deserve some outrage). Maybe you should also be a little miffed that UA is making it look like they care about students by proposing to offering lower tuition for degrees off the main campus but ignoring the needs of the nearly 39,000 undergrads currently on campus by jacking up their tuition. How about asking the cadre of vice presidents/provosts making more than $200K to take a salary cut (or at least institute a salary freeze) so students will have a lower tuition hike.

My prediction for Friday’s proposals is this: NAU’s John Haeger, who was the first to design – and stick with – a four-year-guaranteed tuition plan, will be creative about keeping tuition low. Michael Crow up at ASU will come up with some wiz-bang proposal that stops just short of buying Bolivia and building a new campus there, but will still find a way to increase enrollment through increasing tuition less than UA and will stick with some version of his piloted fixed tuition program. And UA’s Robert N. Shelton, emboldened by his faculty and their unspoken-in-polite-company belief that UA is Arizona’s true research university, that NAU should handle all the “low-end” undergraduate programs and that ASU should be Arizona’s “outreach” university, will eloquently propose that UA hike their tuition to at least $7,800 with proposed fees of at least $500 annually. Neither he nor Crow will rescind the temporary tuition surcharge of last year; I’m not sure about Haeger. If the student regent – or anyone on the board of regents – has the guts to try to stop this, as happened last year, no doubt another all-night, behind-closed-doors meeting with result in a flip-flop and…. a tuition increase.

Students and the public will have one chance and one chance only to comment on the proposed hikes: at the Arizona Board of Regents annual tuition hearing, March 1 from 5 p.m. ‐7 p.m. Comments are heard on a first‐come, first‐served basis, rotating through the three universities and can be no more than 3-minutes long. There are three places at UA to access the hearings: the Harvill Building, Room 211 on the Main Campus; in the Public Meeting Room, Room 203 at the Sierra Vista Campus; and at the UA Science and Technology Park,Building 9040, Room 2270 . Final tuition and fees for next year will be set at the board’s March 11 meeting at UA – but no one can comment at the meeting (although you can hold signs of protest quietly).


18 thoughts on “Giant tuition hike coming – where are the students?

  1. Thanks for mentioning my blog, Renee.
    Also, as I understand it, the $9,000-ish price tag for 2012 would include the surcharge and mandatory fees, but not program-specific fees.

  2. Thanks for the clarification, Becky – those professional fees appear that they may be adopted by every school/department to make up for funding. So a kid in a major in CLAS may end up paying the tuition/fee/surcharge of $8,000 or so next year, plus a $500/annual fee to the college. I’m just glad my daughter is in her final year next year …

  3. If the people of Az keep electing the kind of people they have recently, this situation is only going to get worse.  Reactionaries are very dismissive and distrustful of educated folks; kinda like the Taliban.

  4. If the people of Az keep electing the kind of people they have recently, this situation is only going to get worse.

    The way it’s going, they’ll erect a 10 commandments in front of the law school, open a school of “divinity” and ask the students to tithe 🙂

  5. Why dont you ask the hundreds and hundreds of fired State employees what they think? They didnt have a choice. We are broke, dead broke. I dont think you would get much sympathy from them, Sorry but someone had to say it.  Go ask mommy and daddy for more money.

    1. Thomas: I’m very interested in all the people who got fired from UA and what they think: Tell us – what do you think? As a fellow laid off person, I have lots of sympathy for you – and for all the parents of kids at UA who don’t have the money. yes, many do … and those who are very poor can depend on pell grants. It is the middle that is finding it difficult. Can you give us more details of your situation and what you know – supposedly 400 people were laid off at UA – true? Do you know from where? How else would you propose the UA handle the lack of funds?

  6. I worked for a different state agency. Decades of service. Just as bad for us as for the U of A folks. (although they got paid more).

  7. If the UofA professors are anything like the ones at ASU, everyone is getting the shaft here. I pay 17-18K per year for my son to teach the material to himself in advanced classes like fluid dynamics and physics for engineers. The professors have very little time for them and rarely have open office calls. At test time there is invariably something there that none of the students have even seen before.  So why are we paying extremely high tuition and Board fees so Students can teach themselves?  OVERPAID and UNDERPERFORMING!!!!!

  8. Back to that Freedom of Information world Rene, the one I so dearly love…. try to get the figures out of the University of  Arizona for their parking revenue. It is no wonder the mob has been in the parking business forever.  They once told us those figures did not have to be released, as they were a separate agency! What? What separate agency?  Do these folks think they are at Langley?
    So where does the parking money go? Is is a dedicated fund? Is it used to pay off construction bonds? We the mommy’s and daddy’s who are paying the tuition need a little sunlight here.

    1. And you could always sick Frank Antenori on them, after he finishes sending homeless and disadvantaged people to the ovens! Maybe he would like to assist in lowering the salaries of Administrators who are discovered to have wine in the check out line.

      1. Mike: I really think it is a little overboard to compare the state leaders to Nazis. Hyperbole at best; slander at worst … but not really a good argument one way or the other. People of good will can disagree about solutions to the budget crisis, but as I’ve mentioned before in the comments section, I try to eliminate namecalling (or intimated name-calling) here at GBaM, so…. let’s not compare Antenori’s actions to the Holocaust.

      2. I can’t speak for Mr. Brewer, but I think the ovens are metaphoric in this case.  At least this is the case for now.  Certainly the right wing philosophy has elements in common with fascism – extreme nationalism, xenophobia, militarism and corporatism.   

    2. Hey Mike,
      got your phone msg. I’m on deadline on two class assignments. i can call you tonight if that’s ok.

  9. My word…how fast these comments travel! Just got a bit of feedback about the use of the term “ovens.”  Mea culpa. It must have slipped into my cerebellum because Glenn Beck was on in the background.
    Just a metaphor folks. Used all the time in the military with dudes joking around with each other.
    As a footnote to this subject of tuition, it is worth noting that many of those individuals who are going to suffer from tuition increases are the very veterans who served with Antenori.  A ton of those regular Army and Reservists are on Food Stamps to keep their families thriving while they are off to war.  Who wants to tell them they cannot have a six-pack and a cell phone?
    Also many states provide tuition waivers for disabled veterans and their dependents with the economic foresight and knowledge that the faster one completes their degree and faster they become a taxpayer! Not in Arizona. This is the state that sends its middle class to the ovens…oops, damn that Glenn Beck!

    1. I think you are wrong about the tuition waivers and disabled vets. Shelton enacted something last year (I think it was last year) that was specifically for Vets to get a way-reduced cost of education. Not their DEPENDENTS necessarily, but the kids coming back from the Gulf.

      1. The point of the suggestion was to make known that many states across the nation have full tuition waivers, not partial, for 100% disabled veterans and their dependents.  The key here is that this is just for the ones rated 100%. Significantly different than the program in Arizona.
        Again, sorry for the use of the metaphor. In truth it was said by an Army Special Forces vet first who happens to be on food stamps.  It seemed a bit out of place to quote him.  He was in the same military as Fort Buckley.

    2. Just a metaphor folks. Used all the time in the military with dudes joking around with each other.

      No, it is NOT used “all the time in the military.”  At least not the military I was part of.  Are you saying it’s a Marine thing?  

      Don’t attribute this one to the military or Glenn Beck, Mike—this one’s all you. 

  10. I take full responsibility for the mistaken use of a metaphor. I have learned to never engage in marginal levity in the strained climate we live in today. Many talk show hosts have learned the hard way. I do hope the same rebukes are equally meted out to the Tea Party folks.  They are not metaphorical! Especially with guns on their hips.

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