Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

November 26, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

University Tuition


  • Arizona Board of Regent Fred DuVal talks about a pending tuition increase for university students and other university-related issues.
Guests:
  • Fred DuVal - Arizona Board of Regents
Category: Education

View Transcript
Ted Simons
>> Arizona Board of Regents plans to set new university tuition rates next week on its meeting on December 4. In a moment, I'll speak with a member of the board. First, David Majure shows us what students are saying about proposals to raise tuition rates by as much as 14%.

Hosanna Sheeley
>> So if tuition is going to be raised, I want it to go toward things that are going to help me and others like me succeed.

David Majure
>> Concerned about rising costs of a college education.

Christian Vasquez
>> I want to know where my tuition dollars are being spent.

David Majure
>> And proposals to raise tuition rates at state universities.

R.C. Thornton
>> People should be able to attend based their merits on their academic achievements rather than their ability to afford coming to school here.

David Majure
>> Students from ASU, NAU and the U of A linked by video conference addressed the Arizona Board of Regents November 17th.

Jeremy Kaplan
>> I worry for the students that need to take second jobs. I worry about the students whose parents are facing layoffs and have to take loans out just to afford their in-state tuition.

David Majure
>> The public hearing on the tuition gave the students the chance to share their opinions with the board before it sets new tuition rates in early December.

Hosanna Sheeley
>> I’m a first semester freshman here. Already I had to take out $10,000 in student loans. I want to graduate and go into governmental services. That'll be difficult with all the debt I’ve acquired here.

R.C. Thornton
>> I see tuition as an investment. And like with any other investment, the money that you put in, you need to be able to see where that is going, what the outcome is. So I think that when the Board of Regents makes this decision on tuition in December, if they choose something that is affordable to students and shows high degree of accountability to students, people will be a lot more comfortable with that. And I implore the Board of Regents to take those steps. Thank you.

David Majure
>> Currently, tuition and mandatory fees for resident undergraduates enrolled at ASU is 5,659 dollars. ASU president Michael Crow is proposing a 10% increase for new students enrolling next fall. Tuition would go up $591 to $6,250. However, continuing students would see a 5% increase. For them, tuition and fees would go up $273 to $5,932. This reflects ASU’s commitment to its guaranteed tuition program that limits increases to 5% annually for a student's first five years at the university. It offers a measure of predictability, something students and families say they want.

James Alling
>> I'd like to see that predictability model and these to be applied to other costs, tuition as well as program fees, as well as university fees, as well as parking and transit as well as room and board.

David Majure
>> Like ASU, Northern Arizona University has a guaranteed tuition plan. As a result, NAU is requesting a 3% increase for continuing students. New students would pay almost 14% more than they do now. U of a, on the other hand, doesn't yet guarantee tuition, so both new and continuing students may see an increase of nearly 13%.

Student
>> Model of predictability has been used at other campuses and proposed to be used here at the university of Arizona. It's one that would help students and families of Arizona really understand and be able to afford their degree and their education.

Chris Gast
>> On another note, I would like to talk about fees. There's a lot of them. The university is getting a little fee happy. I'll ask you to be -- to have some restraint.

Ted Simons
>> Joining me now to talk about university tuition is Fred DuVal, member of the Arizona Board of Regents. Thank you for joining here on "Horizon."

Fred DuVal
>> You're welcome.
Ted Simons
>> What factors into considerations for tuition increases?

Fred DuVal
>> Sure. A lot of things. Um, first predictability. It's got two parts. Predictability for the institutions trying to keep their spending limit as predictable as possible so you don't go through big cuts, big increases, etc., and when you have a big cut at the legislature, of course, that puts pressure us on to raise tuition to try keep the predictability in place. Predictability for the students so we can tell them as much as possible, here is the cost of your degree over four years. Two of our -- third, adequacy. What the institutions need. They're growing. 6,000 new students in the system this year and, fourth, probably most importantly, affordability. What -- you know, what's the right balance for the students that are struggling? Taking on two or three jobs to get through and what's affordable? We try to deal with that in two ways. The first is we have a threshold policy our tuition won't be higher than the top of the bottom third of our 50 comparable institutions around the country. So we're a comparatively better deal, not withstanding that we're expensive, and secondly, we move a percentage of tuition into financial aid so we can stay to students, net tuition is really reasonable at $2,000 a semester.

Ted Simons
>> Is the concept of affordability that you mentioned, is that not, though, a moving target especially when you look at what we were like a year ago today and what students now face?

Fred DuVal
>> Yes, it's very, very painful. To have the twin combination of a bad economic time, jobs are already hard to come by, families are struggling and exactly the same time that the legislature is facing, you know, historically high budget deficit and inevitably will cut the universities, that creates terrible pressures for us and makes this the most difficult decision we make every year.

Ted Simons
>> With the considerations in mind, have the regents ever said, "no" to a tuition request?

Fred DuVal
>> Yes. And that's a question that has a couple different parts. I can't recall if there's ever been a zero year but there are several many years, and I’m not going to predict this year whether it'll be one of them or not where we take the requests made by the presidents and trim them back based upon other factors we're trying to balance.

Ted Simons
>> I think some folks are concerned because we hear about how ASU especially wants to increase students. More students. More students, more students. More students. That would suggest more tuition money. More tuition money. More tuition money. Why do the rates have to keep going up?

Fred DuVal
>> Tuition only covers 1/3 of the total cost of the students' education. The balance comes from the state in part and from outside sources, research money, foundation money, etc. So the tuition only covers 1/3. So what ends up happening is the growth does get some state support, in most years, not every year and we'll see what happens this year. And the rest of the system, the financing system, has to make up for the difference when legislature is in the position that they can't, the state has more -- the university has more stress.

Ted Simons
>> Talk about the dynamic between the state legislature and the universities. I know the idea of predictability you mentioned before is something that everyone in the university system would like to see.

Fred DuVal
>> Yes.

Ted Simons
>> Are we going to see that?

Fred DuVal
>> I sure hope so for a couple of reasons. First is that when you take entitlements and statutory form lake programs, you take voter-protected mandates in the state budget, universities are disproportionately the largest remaining part of the discretionary part of the budget, the part where the legislature could increase, decrease, etc. That puts huge problems on us in terms of big increases one year and big subtractions the next year when 80% of the costs are factored into personnel and faculty. It makes the institutions unmanageable. We'd be a better system if we had predictable revenue flow we can build long-term five-year or ten-year plans on.

Ted Simons
>> 50-million-odd or so were already cut as far as the budget. It looks as though -- who knows when this will happen -- it could be midyear. It could be later, the legislature could come back and very well take more. What happens?

Fred DuVal
>> Very tough set of choices. We'll absorb the first $50 million cuts. There's been a lot of press here and, of course, in central Arizona about the ASU cuts. What's that mean for cutting nonfaculty personnel and other forms of reductions and for the nursing program? Really high-stress subtractions from these institutions. Taking more cuts. You know, your choices, do you close the campus? Do you close ASU West? I hope not. Do you cap enrollment and say to students who have the gifts and the GPA's to perform in the universities, there's no place for you? Terrible choices. These are the stresses that we're dealing with. We hope the legislature doesn't put us in that predicament.

Ted Simons
>> We just saw the students voicing their concerns. Students, obviously, are very concerned about the concept of having to pay more. Is the university doing -- is the system -- the regents in general, the university system overall, doing a good enough job of explaining why the tuition increases are necessary?

Fred DuVal
>> I appreciate being on your program to try to do that. We work really hard on that. We work really closely with the students that do a great job in working with us on the tuition dynamics. There are misperceptions to think about it. The first is, gee, tuition is going up, enrollment is going down. People can't afford to come. In fact, enrollment is going up. You pay a price at diversity. You lose your opportunity to expand your base. Diversity statistics are going up. It's tough on the kids that can't afford to come. As tuition goes up we set aside more money for financial aid and net tuition, the natural average cost is remaining stagnant at 2,000. That doesn't justify the tuition increase. There are painful stories, real every day stories the students have that are absorbed by us and we're mindful of. It's a much more nuanced picture in terms of what the actual cost of coming to universities is.

Ted Simons
>> I can't let you get away without talking about the tuition increase, the tuition money that now lawmakers are saying belongs to the general fund as opposed to the university system. What's that all about?

Fred DuVal
>> Well, we had an unusually good enrollment year ironically, even following last year's tuition increase. 6,000 new students. It was more than projected. There's a bit of a tuition windfall from the perspective of the state legislators. Some are suggesting what we should do is tap into the windfall and let the students -- emphasize "the students" -- pay for the costs of state government. Roads, highways, access and the rest and needless to say, the Regents don't find that an attractive idea.

Ted Simons
>> Is that a horse trading going on? Give us a little here so we don't take as much there?

Fred DuVal
>> I wouldn't want to project with the no doubt good intentions of our legislators.

Ted Simons
>> I know the Regents boycotted a meeting regarding capital projects and such. Tell us about that?

Fred DuVal
>> You'll recall the last time I was on, we talked about what was called the speed program. We had this idea we're successful at passing through the legislature last year, that we take outyear revenue from the lottery, not the next couple of years where we had a bad budget. But the outyear revenue of the lottery and we dig dirt against it to build classrooms and rehabilitation of unsafe buildings and the College of Medicine which Arizona critically needs and use that as economic stimulus. The construction sector is so hard hit by the economy. It was passed and signed by the governor. The JCCR has the role to review our bond issuances. They decided not to review them in so doing stopped our ability to move forward on what otherwise was enacted.

Ted Simons
>> Real quickly, we had the Speaker on the show. I mentioned that to him. He basically said these unusual times that call sometimes for unusual measures is this something that you'll continue to fight or is this something that, again, has to go back and sometimes you wheel and sometimes you deal?

Fred DuVal
>> Times are changing. We're mindful of that. Would happy to give ideas to legislators on what ideas should go forward and which shouldn't go forward. The notion a single committee could decide in action to stop something that was passed is a terrible precedent in the short term for sure. Who knows what the future legislators will be and pitting one university against another. It's a bad precedence. We hope to win on the merit and then talk through the program.


Ted Simons
>> Fred, thank you for joining us. Happy thanksgiving.

Fred DuVal
>> Thank you. And to you.

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