Maricopa Community Colleges Board Votes to Implement Tuition Hike in Fall; Minutewoman Pledges to Raise Money for Undocumented Students

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

It's official: undocumented students enrolled in Maricopa Community Colleges this fall will have to pay $317 per credit hour.

The Community Colleges Governing Board voted to implement its tuition increase targeting undocumented students in the fall by a 3-2 vote last night. The tuition increase was first passed in March but has drawn widespread criticism from students, administrators, and civic leaders, which led the board to reconsider the measure last night.

Under the current tuition system, out-of-state students pay a higher rate than in-staters. But out-of-state students -- which is how undocumented students are classified -- are allowed to pay $97 per credit hour if they enroll part-time, for six credit hours or less. The tuition hike eliminates this tier-system in favor of one much-higher flat rate.

Minutewoman board member Debra Pearson gave an impassioned speech in favor of immediately implementing the tuition increase, and she was joined by board members Dana Saar and Doyle Burke in voting to make it effective immediately in the fall. She also commented that she would like the board to raise money for private scholarships on these students' behalves.

Board President Randolph Lumm and member Donald Campbell voted to delay the tuition increase until next March, to allow community college staff more time to implement the increase. Campbell gave a powerful speech of his own in favor of opportunities for undocumented students.

In her speech, Pearson suggested that undocumented students should blame their parents, as Russell Pearce often says, for their situation.

"We don't do a cost-benefit analysis when someone breaks the law and robs a bank," she said. "Those parents go to jail, and their children suffer."

At another point in her remarks, Pearson said the board needed to implement the tuition increase to be in compliance with state laws limiting "public benefits" to illegal immigrants, then suggested that she would like to see the board raise money for private scholarships for undocumented students.

Board President Lumm simply said that the community college system was not ready to increase tuition at this time and that it would affect too many programs and administrators. He said he was okay with increasing tuition -- he just wants to "do it right."

When it was Donald Campbell's turn to speak, he said he has been on the board for 27 years and has always wanted to help people access education.

"My dad died when I was 9," Campbell said. "Mother died when I was 12. I spent 15, 20, 25 years mopping floors trying to get educated," supporting himself through high school, community college, and Arizona State University.

"I'm determined that young people honestly trying to get educated do not have to go through what I went through," he explained, then cast his vote in favor of delaying the tuition increase.

The measure failed.

On the agenda was another measure to ask Attorney General Tom Horne for his opinion on whether the tuition increase is necessary under state law, but the measure was dropped after the board affirmed its tuition increase.

We left a message for Pearson asking when her first fundraiser for undocumented students will be held. We'll let you know if we hear back.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.