The Arizona Desert Lamp

Fees by any other name

Posted in Campus by Evan Lisull on 31 March 2009

An interesting divergence between the UA and the other two Arizona schools is revealed in this Citizen article:

Arizona State University is looking at a surcharge for all students, which would be temporary until state funding is restored.

A surcharge amount hasn’t been proposed but would likely “be in the hundreds, not the thousands” of dollars, said Betty Capaldi, ASU Provost.

. . .

Northern Arizona University is considering a tuition surcharge or charging more for certain programs. NAU President John Haeger said the surcharge could run between $200 and $300, although he still wants student input before proposing an amount.

The University of Arizona is looking at adding more student fees or increasing existing fees but is not looking at a tuition surcharge.

If this emergency tuition surcharge is anything like the one proposed in Washington state, then there should be a sunset provision attached. There is certainly something to be said for the idea, as this surcharge is more obviously a short-term solution in direct reaction to cuts. I suspect that the fees the UA is proposing, which will be attached to specific arms like advising, will persist long after the present fiscal issues, as the groups funded with the fee will fight to the death to ensure their survival.

Tuition surcharges are not without their faults, though, as the state of Oregon demonstrates:

Students of higher education in Oregon will see increasing tuition costs next year after temporary sucharges were rendered permanent and other tuition increases were approved by the Oregon University System.

On March 21, the Oregon State Board of Higher Education met to formally approve a 2002-03 temporary tuition increase and present several tuition increase proposals for 2003-04. These increases are a direct effect of the January failure of Oregon Ballot Measure 28, OUS spokeswoman Di Saunders said.

Following the failure of Measure 28, the University implemented a temporary tuition surcharge for winter and spring term of $10 per credit hour for all undergraduate students. The surcharge was expected to expire at the end of this academic year; however, the failing economy and lack of state education funding led the University to incorporate the charge into the annualized tuition. Saunders said the decision was not something anyone expected — or wanted — but was one of the only options available to secure funding for OUS schools without harming student instruction.

In addition to making the surcharges permanent, the University may also implement a tuition increase for the 2003-05 biennium.

Somehow, these financial emergencies for the university have a funny way of never, ever ending; every year is worse than the last, and we’re always standing on a precipice. The best least-bad option is probably the specific fees, but only insofar as they have the GPSC-recommended sunset provisions and provide the opportunity for public review every two years. Otherwise, the class of 2035 will rue the day that we somehow allowed the Green CaTs fee to be passed.


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  1. […] back on March 30 – almost a whole week ago! – the Tucson Citizen reported the following: The University of Arizona is looking at adding more student fees or increasing existing fees but […]

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