Tuition vs. net cost, and the question of financial aid

By Shain Bergan

Becky Pallack made an interesting post on her Campus Correspondent blog for the Arizona Daily Star on Tuesday.

Short but sweet, Pallack points out that while everyone is focused on the impending dramatic increase in University of Arizona tuition and fees, they may actually want to take a closer look at net cost of attendance—that is, the cost after the help typically provided by the UA Office of Financial Aid.

The post on the Campus Correspondent references these numbers as the Arizona Board of Regents’ figures for net tuition paid by the average UA student:

“2006-07 $1,297

2007-08 $1,801

2008-09 $1,977”

Here’s the interesting part: Pallack says that the net cost of attendance is rising even faster than the tuition sticker price. UA President Robert Shelton and ABOR’s defense of the rising tuition over the past several months has been that while tuition itself will rise, financial aid will increase even more, actually making UA attendance more affordable for the majority of students, especially those under or around the poverty level.

Basically, the thought is that those who can afford it will pay near the maximum tuition amount for their actual net cost of attendance, increasing revenue for the university even though the UA will be shelling out more in financial aid.

Something isn’t adding up. Will financial aid really increase significantly, as the upper administration has said? I don’t doubt that it will increase, but it seems the most likely scenario sees financial aid increase, but only really as a percentage reflection of the rapidly rising tuition, which will be at $9,000 in-state within the next two years.

No word yet on how this plan of tuition will change if the three-plus-one plan (UA degrees at Pima Community College) gets the go-ahead from ABOR for the UA (Shelton has yet to offer such a plan and has not really committed publicly to doing so.), but it would certainly be another wrench in the complex math of yearly tuition rise.

Tuition is rising, but it’s all right because even if you’re paying a little more than you currently do, it won’t be significant, because you will have more financial aid to help you out, but we’re still going to make a lot of money in revenue because of the people who can afford the full tuition—That’s what the UA upper administration is selling. Are you buying?


One response to “Tuition vs. net cost, and the question of financial aid

  1. Pingback: ABOR Preview, part 1: Who will stick up for students in the tuition battle? « The WatchCat News-Journal

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