Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On tax day, AZ families brace for 'college tax'

State budget cuts have tuition going way up at UA and other colleges.

UPDATE, 4/16: Tucson Citizen editorial.

TUCSON -- Middle-class families whose children attend Arizona universities will file their taxes today, but they’ll have to save up for a new “college tax” they’ll likely face at the end of the month.

Students and their families may have to pick up the tab — $190 million — for Republicans’ deep cuts in the 2009 budget to the state’s university system.

Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University are all proposing extra surcharges tacked onto students’ tuition, the largest to the tune of $1,200 at ASU, which could be approved by the Arizona Board of Regents on April 30.

“Our state’s three universities had no other choice after the legislature made the biggest cuts to public universities in U.S. history,” said House Democratic Policy Leader Steve Farley, D-Tucson (District 28). “In reality, these ‘surcharges’ are a college tax for students.”

The extra charges come after the regents have already increased tuition by 5 percent for current students at ASU and by 10 percent for new students. Without the surcharges, ASU will risk losing thousands of employees and merit scholarships.

"The out-of-touch GOP majority who voted for the big cuts to higher education has forgotten that the Arizona constitution requires us to keep tuition as low absolutely possible," said Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (District 29). "There are other budget options, such as the House Democrats', that would honor the state constitution we are all sworn to uphold, but they have not yet received the full consideration deserved."

“This is another way of balancing the budget on the backs of the students,” said Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe (District 17). “This time, the legislature is forcing the universities to do it.”

The new fees will put tuition at ASU and UA above the national average for the first time.

“Our state’s constitution requires us to make public higher education as free as possible,” said Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe (District 17). “Our university students are the key to our state’s future economic vitality and taxing them is not the way to get our economy back on track.”

- adapted from House Dems PIO.


AZAce said...

I wholeheartedly agree. The state constitution is clear. When Likens justified tuition increases by comparing with other states' universities, he should have been corrected.

The shortfall should be made up by increasing teacher course load to make it comparable to other states and cutting administration.

The two last things that should ever happen are raising tuition and laying off teachers since they are central to the core purpose of the institution unlike everything else.

Eli Blake said...

ANDAccording to yesterday's Arizona Republic they will be cutting the AIMS scholarship for students who score 'exceeding' on the AIMS test to $3000 per student (aside from other restrictions on eligiblity.) Since tuition has gone up by about that already, what they are really saying is:

IF you have a student who is really academically gifted then they will generously provide an AIMS scholarship that will get the cost of college back to where it was WITHOUT such a scholarship just a couple of years ago.

And for a GOP that preaches against the evils of becoming 'enslaved' by dependence on government programs, doesn't this practically ***guarantee*** that almost all students at Arizona Universities will need more and more federal grants and guaranteed loans, and so will become, yes, more dependent on government?

Sort of like opposing family planning and sex ed but preaching against abortion, or like requiring selective service registration while leaving a Mack truck sized hole in any future draft by kicking people who say they are opently gay out of the military for free, this is yet another example of how Republican policies end up promoting that which they profess to abhor, usually more effectively than anyone with an actual agenda to promote it could.

Donna said...

That was a mind-boggling decision by the AZ court to say that exhorbitant tuition is OK because it's still less than other states. Our state constitution stipulates it should be as nearly free as possible. Obviously, the drafters of that document felt that education was important enough to not treat it like a consumer commodity driven by market forces where, too bad so sad if you can't afford to buy it.