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Budget cuts forcing Arizona universities to seek surcharges

PHOENIX – The Arizona Board of Regents will once again consider a tuition surcharge or adding higher fees for certain academic programs to make up for lost funding.

On Tuesday, the presidents of Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University are expected to make their case for potential increases before a regents committee, and a proposal could go before the board as early as April.

“Everything’s on the table,” said Fred Boice, president of the Arizona Board of Regents.

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.

The university is looking at raising fees for certain majors that are more expensive to offer, such as nursing.

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.

The regents had already approved a fall 2009 increase in December that pushed in-state tuition and fees past the $6,000 mark for the first time for new Arizona freshmen.

The state’s financial situation has deteriorated further since the hike and resulted in another round of funding cuts.

Cash from the federal economic stimulus package may soften the impact.

But Boice isn’t hopeful that the stimulus aid will be enough to head off some sort of increase for students.

“It’s one-time money,” he said of the stimulus. “Then in a year, two years, it goes away.”

Talk of a second potential tuition hike this fall is proving unpopular with students.

University officials said they have few alternatives.

“We need students to help with some of the gap, too,” ASU’s Capaldi said.

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