New tuition structure offers students, families increased predictability for college costs
The Arizona Board of Regents approved today a new multi-year tuition setting structure to increase cost predictability for resident students at Arizona’s public universities. The new structure includes setting maximum tuition growth rates and also provides a lever for the board to hold tuition increases if the state of Arizona increases General Fund appropriations to the universities.
In lieu of the traditional annual tuition setting, in the new tuition policy revision, university presidents present to the board for approval maximum growth rates for resident tuition, academic fees, and meal and housing plans in six-year cycles. The board and universities then revisit growth rates during the fourth year of the six-year cycle and extend the cycle by four years. Thus, the board acts on tuition every four years.
“We hope this tuition restructure will be helpful for students and families,” said ABOR Chair Lyndel Manson. “Our intention is to reduce confusion about tuition and fees and - most of all - provide predictability for students so they know what to expect when budgeting for college.”
Under the policy revision, tuition increases are prohibited if the state of Arizona increases General Fund appropriations for general operations or university student financial aid or a combination of the two on an ongoing basis in excess of 2.5 percent of total tuition and fees revenue. University presidents are also able to set the published resident undergraduate and graduate tuition rate in excess of the maximum growth rate if state funding were reduced.
“We are hoping the state will support Arizona families and students,” said ABOR Chair-elect Fred DuVal. “So, we are making a clear and simple offer to the Legislature: if the legislature commits to a sufficient level of committed multi-year funding, we will cap tuition.”
Course fees are eliminated under the policy revision and maximum fees charged during an academic year are calculated with growth rates approved during the prior year. New academic fees require board approval, and the universities may still charge mandatory, program and college fees.
Additional provisions outlined in the policy revision:
- Maximum tuition charged to resident undergraduate and graduate students is calculated by applying the growth rate to the published tuition costs of the prior academic year.
- Universities may charge tuition below the maximum tuition.
- Students and the public will be able to comment on proposed tuition rates during a public hearing.
- Tuition rates are published sooner under the proposed policy – by Dec. 31 by the board each year for the upcoming academic year.
To transition to this new structure, this April the board will be asked to approve the tuition and fees for the 2023-24 year as well as maximum tuition growth rates for each year through 2028-29. In advance, the board will have a public hearing and publish the presidents’ proposals to the board, available to the public. Going forward, this process will move to the fall, in advance of legislative session and budget development (see timeline below).
The board and Arizona’s public universities in recent years enacted several programs to increase access and affordability for students.
The board’s Arizona Promise Program offers a guaranteed scholarship for eligible resident students covering Arizona public university tuition and fees – enabling higher education access for more Arizona students from low-income families.
Arizona’s public universities continue to offer robust financial aid for students, collectively providing more than $1 billion in institutional gift aid in fiscal year 2021. Several lower-cost pathways to a degree added by the board and universities in recent years include more community college partnerships, expanded online education and additional affordable degree programs.
Arizona State University for the past several years limited resident tuition increases to 3 percent or less. Northern Arizona University recently launched Access2Excellence, enabling qualified Arizona resident students from households that make $65,000 or less the opportunity to attend the university tuition free. The University of Arizona launched the Arizona Native Scholars Grant providing undergraduate students from the state’s 22 federally recognized Native American tribes a tuition-free education at the UArizona main campus in Tucson.
Ongoing Tuition and Fee Setting Timeline and Process
- Initially, and after student consultation, university presidents would propose growth rate(s) for a six-year cycle to the board for consideration.
- After approval of six-year growth rate(s) by the board:
- By November 15 of each year, presidents would notify the board of their proposed published tuition and fees.
- By December 15 of each year, presidents would publish the tuition, fees, meal plan and residence hall rates for the next academic year.
- By December 31 of each year, the board office would publish the tuition and fees for the next academic year for each university, and also publish the maximum tuition and fees for the year after.
- Every four years, the presidents will propose growth rate(s) for a four-year extension to be considered by the board.
More information is available here.
Sarah Harper, 602-229-2542, 602-402-1341 | Sarah.K.Harper@azregents.edu