New resident undergraduate students at Arizona universities will pay about 3 to 4 percent more in tuition and fees this fall, the State Board of Regents announced Monday.
At the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, regents raised the price for incoming resident students by about 4 percent. Students at UA will pay $11,403, and students at NAU will pay $10,358. Current students who have signed up for a four-year tuition guarantee, however, will be shielded from the hike.
The regents didn't increase tuition at Arizona State University, but, instead, approved a one-time $320 fee, bringing the total bill to $10,478 per student. Altogether, that's 3 percent more than students paid during the 2014-2015 school year.
Charging more tuition and fees will partially compensate for the loss of $99 million in state funding, approved by the Arizona Legislature in March, but Board of Regents Chair Mark Killian said universities will still have to cut staff and programs.
"With the cuts from the state, there wasn't really too much of an option," said Corina Tapscott, a sophomore at ASU and incoming president of the school's downtown Phoenix campus. "What we really want to see is more state support for our students, so we don't have to be increasing tuition."
"My concern is that this will remain a pattern," Killian said.
The regents chair has threatened to sue the state for violating a clause in the Arizona constitution that says university education should be as "nearly free as possible." The board has "a lot of work to do" convincing the legislature of university's value as an investment to the state, he said — not a cost.
Governor Doug Ducey, who engineered the budget cut, is a member of the Board of Regents but did not attend Monday's vote.
The regents also briefly discussed a controversial proposal to lower tuition for undocumented immigrants who qualify for a work permit through President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from about 300 percent of the resident tuition rate to 150 percent. In order to pay the lower rate, students must have come to the United States before their 16th birthday and have a clean criminal record, among other things.
The move is "in line" with the regents mission to "insure access" for Arizona students, said regent LuAnn Leonard.
"These students are some of the brightest in the state and they are our future," Leonard said.
Despite prodding from activists, however, the regents did not discuss adjusting the proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to pay the same amount as Arizona residents.
The regents will vote on the proposal in June.
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