Students at Arizona State University will face a higher tuition and fee increase next year than originally expected, under a proposal approved Thursday by the state Board of Regents.
"It's unfortunate," said ASU junior Sophie O’Keefe-Zellman, who attended the board meeting in Tucson. "But as long as (additional funds) go towards student services then some good has been done."
Under the plan, the hike will be $50 more than originally thought — a $465 annual rise overall. Resident undergraduate tuition and fees at ASU will be $4,062 a year, and nonresident undergraduate students will pay $12,917.
Graduate students took the biggest hit with a $1,330 increase, bringing resident tuition to $5,917 and nonresident to $13,647.
Overall, the increases were the second-highest monetarily in the state's history and pushed tuition at all three universities above $4,000 for resident undergraduates. Students will |pay $4,072 at Northern Arizona University and $4,087 at the University of Arizona.
This year's round of tuition increases, which set different rates for Arizona's universities, passed 8-1.
Regent Ernest Calderon was the sole dissenter, saying other board members "are out of touch with working students."
"I just believe it is imprudent to raise tuition 40 percent in year A, and another 10 percent in year B," Calderon said, referring to a hike imposed last year. "If I raise my legal rates 50 percent in two years I would lose my clients."
ASU President Michael Crow challenged Calderon's assertion, noting that last year's tuition increase created 14 percent set aside for financial aide.
Consequently, ASU paid the tuition of 9,000 students, Crow said.
"We were looking out for the working students," Crow said. "We are totally and completely committed to financial aid . . . tuition investments are not going to support our research enterprises but our undergraduate educational enterprise."
Crow cited an increase in applications and enrollment at ASU as a proof that "low costs did not provide access to the institution."
Regent Chris Palacios asked the board to roll a $50 fee for the recreation center and student union and an $80 student health fee into ASU's tuition increase.
Crow initially asked for a $335 annual increase plus the $80 student health fee in anticipation of a student referendum to gradually increase fees for improvements at the recreation center and student union. That referendum failed Feb. 19.
Palacios' move, which passed 8-1, will give Crow more freedom to divert the extra funds to student needs such as financial aid, extended library hours, and increasing the number of public safety officers.
Although some regents opposed the differentiation of tuition rates, Regent Gary Stuart said the move was necessary because of the Changing Directions initiative, launched 18 months ago by the board, which allows each institution to develop its own distinct mission.
Meanwhile, the board also approved a proposal to charge a $25 application fee to help pay the administrative cost of precessing admissions applications. This was an unexpected proposal welcomed by the universities’ presidents. Next year ASU expects to receive 50,000 applications.
The board also approved a rent hike at residents halls at all three universities. Students will pay a 6 percent increase in rent at ASU. While NAU and UA students will pay 3.5 percent and 7 percent increases respectively.