Tag Archives: Financial Aid

ABOR Preview, part 1: Who will stick up for students in the tuition battle?

By Shain Bergan

As the week before Spring Break commences, the three academic issues on everyone’s mind are tuition, fees and tuition. As it so happens, base tuition and mandatory fees for Arizona’s public universities will be decided this week when the Arizona Board of Regents comes to the University of Arizona.

Always looking out for the students, the Board chose in late 2008 to put together a group—known as the Tuition and Affordability Work Group—to “examine tuition policies and affordability issues”. Well, it’s time for that group to put up or shut up. The entire Arizona university system is now—as in, like, right now!—looking to the group for leadership and guidance over whether or not to endorse a plan that would raise tuition about $2,000, which I’m sure will have some weight with the Regents’ decision.

I think we all know what the student preference would be (You know, keeping university enrollment affordable and all that jazz.), so I’m sure such a group would keep their interests in mind, right? After all, here’s a description of the people in the Tuition and Affordability Work Group:

“The work group included senior university staff, student leaders, and Board staff.”

Very well. Let’s go through these, shall we?

Senior university staff – I’m assuming this means university staffers in lofty positions. The only people this could include, though, would be university upper administration types and those who have been elevated by their peers (a.k.a. Faculty Senate Members). Considering the upper administrative and faculty leadership situations look something like this, this and this, I wouldn’t be holding out too much which stance they chose to go with while in the Tuition and Affordability Work Group.

Student leaders – Ah, surely if high-salaried folks in the Admin Building and at Faculty Senate meetings are unwilling to stand up for lower tuition and better higher education affordability (Don’t even throw that weak crap about financial aid picking up the affordability slack, because I will bring this up.), students’ own peers will do so, right?

Read this and this, then cringe.

Strike two.

So what’ll it be, Arizona Board of Regents? I think we all know the answer, but we’ll still be there on Thursday.

Strike three.

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.

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Others recycling news; The UA got off easy at ABOR

  • Trust no one…except the WatchCat

Apologies for the wait on the 2nd day of the Arizona Board of Regents meeting at the Arizona State University West campus. We wanted to wait to see the two-cents input from other news outlets (although there doesn’t seem to be anything here) on a Friday meeting that clearly only focused on ASU’s “strategic business plan” (In more pressing news, ASU President Michael Crow is apparently also the unflappable Bill Belichick—who knew?!)

Well anyway, the reason we didn’t report on this and this is simple—We already have!! Three times!!! Besides, look at this and this—the same thing, right? That’s what we said! Apparently no one picked up on it, though (except the good ol’ WatchCat News-Journal). Talk about ABOR (and others) recycling news. Check out the stats (links) on financial aid and enrollment statistics for yourself if you wish. They are mildly interesting.

  • I mean, uh, do we even have one?

So ASU presented the Regents with its strategic business plan. Apparently ASU drew the short straw, because neither Continue reading

ABOR, Day 1: The conflict between tuition and financial aid

A rather thin meeting in terms of content, but worthwhile nonetheless.

In the fashion that has become so popular as of late, the Arizona Board of Regents decided the “blame others first, do something later” approach to Arizona’s budget problems is right up their alley.

  • So what do you want? Lower tuition or more financial aid?

About halfway through Thursday’s Regents meeting, ABOR Chief Financial Officer Sandy Woodley and Regent Robert Bulla entered in a fundamental argument exchange with one another. After filleting the State of Arizona for not supplying the universities with enough money to run quality institutions, the Board switched gears (well not really, but kind of), with Regent Fred Boice saying, “I don’t think tuition should be impacted by family income, big or small.” The job of worrying about paying for college, he said, lies with financial aid.

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Day 2 sees Regents string random big words together, skip over the interesting parts

Convinced that touching up on thoughts interesting and relevant to students would be too far a stretch from the Arizona Board of Regents’ traditional approach to fixing Arizona’s higher education system, the Board instead chose to skip over the interesting parts of the scheduled agenda (graduation trends, enrollment statistics and plans for enrollment increases, financial aid reports).

The university communities probably would have preferred at least some kind of commentary from the Regents on these issues, but here are some numbers that tell their own story. If you want a rundown of some of those numbers (as well as see what curiously was not talked about on Day 2 of the Regents meeting on the University of Arizona campus, despite being on the agenda), check this out.

  • More evidence that science rules, arts and social sciences drool: UA President Robert Shelton spoke at great length at the beginning of the ABOR meeting about how “collective creativity will show us who we really are”. In a rallying-the-troops-like speech, the president waxed poetic about studying how second languages are acquired, the Phoenix Mars Lander, making advanced strides in medicine.

In fact, the only non-science/research point-of-pride that was expressed by Shelton was that the UA “has a great arts tradition.”

And just in case anyone was still under the illusion that the UA was going to try to excel in instructing its students, rather than pulling in obscene amounts of money from science research, Shelton then turned the floor over to Leslie Tolbert, vice president for research. This, of course, is no surprise, considering the UA Transformation Process has been accused quite heavily of throwing instruction out the window in favor of more financially-advantageous endeavors, like science and research.

It’s just more confirmation that, for better or for worse, the UA is becoming less about instruction and the social sciences, and more about science, research and the funds they create. I guess the UA is slowly seeing “who we really are.”

Do you think it’s just coincidence that the UA’s plan to connect the main campus to downtown with a modern streetcar has the car running from downtown to the UA Health Sciences Center at University Medical Center?

During the presentation on the streetcar plan, it was noted that the UA has, of course, been in constant contact with city leadership to make sure the idea works. I wonder if the Tucson City Council will mention any of this at their meeting on Dec. 7. Let’s check the agenda—nope.

ABOR Preview, Part Deux: Numbers games

The second day of the Arizona Board of Regents meeting on the University of Arizona campus will be just as full as Day 1, with some interesting statistics to boot, if you’re into that kind of thing.

  • Financial aid reports – In accordance with the Board’s “2020 Vision” (visited in part one of the WatchCat ABOR Preview), the Regents will be looking at financial aid plans for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011, as well as reflecting on the FY 2009 financial aid situation concerning the Arizona university system.

Since part of the “2020 Vision” is to increase both the number of degrees produced and the total number of students within the university system, naturally, financial aid must be examined to be able to make Arizona’s university more affordable, according to the Regents’ agenda. Basically, the idea is that if college is made more affordable, more people will go to college. Don’t ask me how this fits into ABOR’s plan to “maintain educational excellence,” but it sure should make some money.

Instead of regurgitating info, here are some numbers straight from the horse’s mouth:

-Total financial aid within the state university system for 2008-2009: $1.3 billion, a 19 percent increase from the previous year

-Amount of above figure that accounted for the UA financial aid for 2008-2009: About $430 million

-Amount of debt students typically find themselves in upon graduation: $19,110, a 12 percent increase over the last six years

-The largest source of financial aid awards: Student loans, at 48 percent

-The smallest source of financial aid awards: State funding (no kidding; we knew that even a year ago), at about 1 percent

-Average net tuition paid by full-time undergraduate residents: $2,253

  • Enrollment and graduation trends: The Regents will be discussing plans concerning undergraduate enrollment. Although undergraduate enrollment is 1,400 short of projections, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded is more than 1,500 ahead of projections. Interesting.

Again, the numbers tell the story:

Undergraduates

-Fall 2008 freshmen admitted without academic deficiencies: 72 percent

-Fall 2007 freshmen admitted without academic definciencies: 79 percent

-Average fall 2008 freshmen GPA: 2.9

-Average fall 2007 freshmen GPA: 2.8

-Enrollment increases by university: UA – 1.9 percent; Arizona State University – 1.5 percent; Northern Arizona University – 4.5 percent

-Percentage of Arizona university system students who are out-of-state undergraduates: 24.3 percent

-Percentage of UA students who fall into the above category: 30.3 percent

Graduation

-The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded by the Arizona university system in 2008-2009: 20,106 degrees; ASU awarded 11,229, while the UA awarded 5,915. NAU brought up the rear with 2,963 bachelor’s degrees awarded

-The number of graduate degrees awarded by the Arizona university system during that same timeframe: 8,562; ASU – 4,381, UA – 2,327; NAU – 1,854

-Curiously, undergraduate enrollment is up 3 percent while graduate enrollment is down 1.2 percent.

  • Revising the Student Code of Conduct: The Board of Regents will be revising the universities’ Student Code of Conduct policies to reflect the recent change in Arizona law allowing firearms to be stored in locked compartments within vehicles. It is worth noting that the revised code will allow universities to require that cars carrying firearms be parked in alternate parking lots, if the universities so choose to exercise that requirement.