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State universities' tuition proposals hike tuition, fees by average of 3 percent

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PHOENIX — The presidents of Arizona's three state universities are proposing to boost revenues through tuition or fee increases in the coming school year to make up for part of a $99 million cut in state funding in the budget signed by Gov. Doug Ducey last month.

Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona are proposing 3 to 4 percent increases in tuition for incoming Arizona resident freshman, bringing tuition and fees at the institutions to $10,358 and $11,403 respectively.

Students currently enrolled on guaranteed tuition plans would see no increase, but out-of-state students would see much bigger hikes at both schools. The University of Arizona is also extending its tuition guarantee program to all continuing students if its tuition proposal is approved.

Arizona State University is taking a different approach and will charge all new and existing in-state students a one-time $320 surcharge for the 2015-2016 school year while keeping tuition flat. That also equates to about a 3 percent hike.

The ASU boost would affect nearly 46,000 students and raise about $14.7 million. Big hikes in out-of-state tuition plus new rates for foreign students are also proposed, but university officials couldn't immediately provide an estimate for new revenue from those increases.

Calls seeking comment from ASU's undergraduate student government leaders weren't immediately returned Friday afternoon.

NAU and the University of Arizona are each replacing less than 50 percent of the cuts with new fees. NAU took a $17.3 million cut and the University of Arizona a decrease of $28.5 million in state funding. Altogether, Ducey's budget cut 13 percent from state university funding.

ASU is losing $53 million in state funding in the budget year that begins July 1. The new revenue from tuition and fees will cover about a third of the cuts. The university said it would cut operations expenses by $34 million in the coming year by cutting unit budgets or delaying new initiatives or hiring to cover the other two-thirds.

"We did not want students to bear the full brunt of the state cut in tuition, and we will be identifying reductions after we have an approved tuition rate," University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart said in a statement.

Ducey addressed the Board of Regents Thursday and urged them to exhaust cost-cutting moves and hold back on tuition increases as much as possible so a university education remains affordable.

The three universities are looking at cutting programs, delaying hiring and other spending to make up for the remaining cuts.

Tuition at state universities has more than doubled in the past 10 years, while overall state funding has fallen despite big enrollment increases.

The proposals released Friday are the first move in a multi-step process leading up to a May 4 decision by the Board of Regents on tuition and fees.

The regents will hold an interactive hearing at eight university campuses across the state April 20 to hear comments from students and the public regarding the proposals.

The presidents of the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University will present their proposals in person during an April 27 regents workshop at ASU's Tempe campus.

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