The UA's tuition recommendations to ABOR include a guaranteed rate plan for incoming undergraduates.
In its annual tuition and fees proposal to the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona has recommended a 2 percent increase for all resident students and a 5 percent increase for all nonresident students and proposed a guaranteed tuition rate plan for all incoming undergraduate students.
The 2 percent increase in tuition for resident undergraduate and graduate students would offset inflationary increases in mandatory costs and the 5 percent increase in tuition for nonresident undergraduate and graduate students would align their tuition with the UA peer institutions.
The increases are necessary to expand the quality of education and cover increases in mandatory costs associated with health benefits for employees and students, utilities, facility operations and maintenance, library materials and faculty and staff retention costs that were not supported by state government.
"We've worked hard to keep the proposed tuition increases to a minimum for Arizona students and provide a competitive price for a desirable degree for out-of-state students," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. "Our proposal also shows exactly how the UA will allocate those funds to expand academic and research programs that benefit students and the state."
The Never Settle academic and business plan, approved by ABOR in November 2013, outlines initiatives to enhance student success, double research funding and boost the number of college graduates in the state. Planned academic program improvements include offering every student a significant engagement opportunity outside the classroom, building online degree and course offerings, and focusing on new degree programs that are strategic for Arizona and have high growth potential for graduates.
Since the state was forced to cut higher education during the last recession, tuition has become the primary source of general funds for the university. The UA has increased efficiencies and made cuts in order to reduce the need for tuition increases. Administrative support staff numbers have been cut by 80 positions, personnel expenses in facilities management have been reduced and improvements in purchasing processes and energy conservation have saved $21.2 million over the last four years.
In addition, the UA has closed 24 underperforming undergraduate degree programs and 20 graduate degree programs and eliminated or merged 60 academic units over the last five years.
In the same period, the UA has seen an 8 percent growth in student headcount and a 15 percent increase in credit hours. Classrooms and courses are being redesigned to take advantage of advances in information technology and active learning strategies that improve student learning.
Key academic metrics at the UA continue to rise. Since 2010, overall student retention has increased by 6 percent to 81.5 percent and retention of minority students has increased by 9 percent for an all-time high of 80.9 percent.
Efforts to keep the UA affordable and accessible to all qualified students include offering more courses at non-traditional hours and during summer sessions, improved academic advising to ensure efficient paths to graduation and articulation agreements that promote transfers from Arizona community colleges with support to graduation.
The UA also proposes a guaranteed tuition plan for incoming students that also would be optional for continuing undergraduates. The plan would hold tuition to a flat rate for eight consecutive semesters, with anticipated increases for the four years already factored into the rate. The program would be mandatory for all incoming students and the tuition rate set annually for each incoming class.
"Not only would students and families know in advance exactly what their UA degree would cost, the plan also provides incentives for students to graduate in four years," Hart said.
The UA also recommended a 2 percent increase in resident and nonresident tuition for the Colleges of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix, which would bring resident tuition to $29,260 and nonresident tuition to $48,818.
ABOR has scheduled a public hearing for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, to discuss the tuition recommendations made by the three state universities. The UA main campus site will be the Gallagher Theatre in the Student Union Memorial Center and the UA South at Sierra Vista site will be in the Academic Technology Building, Room B153.
The Arizona Board of Regents will vote on tuition at its April 3 meeting at the UA.