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Regents’ committee recommends suspending tuition cap

A tuition subcommittee of the Arizona Board of Regents voted Tuesday to recommend suspending the cap that has limited tuition and fee increases at the state’s universities to the top of the bottom one-third of the universities’ peers.

The recommendation of the Tuition Task Force, if approved by the full Board of Regents, would allow for tuition and fee increases this fall, despite the regents already increasing 2009-10 rates in December.

University of Arizona President Robert N. Shelton said he won’t ask for a tuition increase, but will ask for increases in mandatory fees of nearly $1,000 per student.

Northern Arizona and Arizona State universities are considering tuition surcharges “in the hundreds of dollars,” and various program fees.

Board policy states that tuition and mandatory fees cannot go above the top of the bottom one-third of that charged by a 50-university peer group.

But facing record budget cuts from the state and anticipating more, higher education leaders say the cap limits their ability to maintain quality. “These policies (of the tuition cap) were established before we faced catastrophic budget challenges,” said Regent Ernest Calderón, chairman of the task force.

In December, the regents approved tuition and fee increases for the fall; UA’s was almost 10 percent, continuing a trend of about double-digit increases for the past five years.

Students opposed suspending what they see as the only thing between them and out-of-control tuition costs.

“In effect, we now have no protection,” said UA student Michael Slugocki, who chairs the Arizona Students Association.

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