UA Tuition Proposal for 2014-15

in

University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart submitted the following tuition proposal to the Arizona Board of Regents on Mar. 12, 2014.

In developing the University of Arizona’s tuition proposal for the 2014 – 2015 academic year we referenced both the revenue and expenditure components in the Strategic Business Plan that was presented to the Arizona Board of Regents in November 2013.

This plan built in a 2% increase for both graduate and undergraduate tuition. In consultation with student leadership we have modified the plan to recommend an increase in nonresident undergraduate and graduate tuition of 5%,while retaining a 2% increase for resident undergraduate and graduate tuition.

This adjustment in nonresident tuition reflects market analysis on tuition elasticity that supports our ability to increase tuition revenue from this source. In part, this capacity stems from the fact that in comparison to our ABOR peers the University’s nonresident undergraduate tuition is well below the peer median. The increase in nonresident tuition is also predicated on the lack of additional support from the state to cover mandatory cost increases associated with utilities, operation and maintenance of buildings, employer related cost increases for employee and graduate student health benefits, library materials, and faculty and staff recruitment and retention.

However, the proposed increase is not the only tool the University is employing to meet this and other needs. As with the tuition plan for this academic year that the Board approved in April 2013, we are mindful of the need to reduce administrative costs and improve operational efficiencies:

  • Over the last four years the university has reduced the size of its administrative support staff by 80 employees for a savings of $4 Million.
  • We have reduced temporary and overtime expenses in the areas of facilities maintenance by $1.2 Million in the current year.
  • Operational efficiencies over the last four years in the areas of procurement and energy efficiency have also yielded additional cost savings to the campus of $16 Million. 

The University is also optimizing resources to engage students, both in terms of retention, and in degree programs:

  • Over the last five years, UA has seen not only an 8% growth in student headcount but a 15% growth in student credit hours as well.
  • Of particular note in this improvement, since 2010 overall student retention has increased by 6%, while retention of ethnic minority students has increased by 9%.
  • Non-resident freshman retention has similarly increased by 9% during the same period.
  • Likewise, over the last five years, we have closed 24 underperforming undergraduate degree programs and 20 underperforming graduate degree programs. At the same time we disestablished, merged or consolidated 60 academic units (departments, schools or colleges).
  • While optimizing existing programs, we strategically added selected new programs in areas of high demand and opportunity. For example, we have added three undergraduate programs since 2010: Biomedical Engineering, which now has 194 majors; Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, which has 389 majors (about 60% of which are Honors College students); and the Bachelor of General Studies, which has 731 majors.
  • With our request for program fees and differential tuition, we have looked carefully at how to design programs that better prepare students for the current and future workforce. Some degree programs are significantly more expensive to deliver, as demonstrated in the Delta Cost Study on degree types. For example, our request for a program fee for the BA in Law takes into account that a number of required courses will be taught by faculty in the College of Law and these students will need special law services and support that undergraduates do not normally need. Furthermore, requests for program fees and differential tuition always include additional student services, internships, career advising, or major-specific support that goes beyond what tuition dollars can fund. In addition, student consultation is always included for new or increased fees for existing programs; students provide input on the extra services they expect from the fee.

Along with these strategic allocations of resources and the ongoing improvements in operational efficiencies, the current tuition and fee request will help advance our continuing strategic goals. There are several academic and student support initiatives that are advancing these goals.

Academic Initiatives:

Shaping Academic Programs

  • We continue to redesign academic units and degree programs for size, strength, opportunity, and resources.
  • We are shifting academic units into teams of teaching and research specialists to optimize both student engagement and innovation.
  • We are developing select areas of study that are primed for growth in workforce needs and national competitiveness at both the undergraduate and graduate/professional education levels. For example, we are implementing new degrees that include the BS in Bioinformatics, BA in Law, BS in Sustainable Built Environments, MA in International Security Studies, PSM (Professional Science Master’s degree) in Applied Nutrition, and PhD in Information. In each case, the new degree program targets an area of both opportunity for the University and needed workforce development for the state and nation.

Advancing the Instructional Environment

  • To maximize the use of tuition and state investment, we continue to redesign courses by incorporating workshops, new uses of information technology, specialized equipment, and facilities.
  • We are updating classroom facilities to better support an active learning environment that promotes students’ capacity to apply knowledge in the real world. A committee of faculty, IT professionals, learning specialists, students, and administrators is working with deans and department heads to update classrooms for specific needs, such as developing two-way video communication to facilitate simultaneous instruction at multiple locations and to capture lectures for later online delivery. The committee is also working with other university campuses to learn classroom design elements that facilitate student-centered teaching and learning. Using this comparison we are beginning to plan the redesign of several current UA classrooms to facilitate active learning through faculty-student interactions, student-student interactions, and the creative use of technology.

Investing in Quality Faculty

  • To support both research and workforce development needs within Arizona, we are working strategically to recruit and retain in areas of current and emerging strength.

Student Support Initiatives

100% Student Engagement

  • To promote 100% Engagement we are seeking to hire leadership for the program, college engagement advisors to assist students and staff to work directly with business and industry to expand internships and engagement opportunities. These positions will allow the University to implement a full Engagement program on campus with pre-qualified experiences, engagement success colloquia and enhanced opportunities in partnership with local, regional and national employers.
  • We are establishing a Graduation with Engagement designation for the UA transcript, which will further position UA graduates as employment-ready with top businesses and graduate programs around the world.

Increased Retention Efforts

  • To ensure that we recruit to retain to graduate, we are expanding on opportunities to proactively identify barriers to success through additional Schedule for Success enrollment, implementation of predictive analytics tools, and the creation of new firstyear seminars, success courses, and mentoring programs.

  • To complement these strategies where necessary, we also are implementing individualized interventions for students at risk with new and targeted academic recovery programs.

Online Education

  • To promote student success in UA degree programs, we are creating clearly defined pathways for access to online programs that are integrated into existing UA systems for application, registration, billing and transcription.
  • We are developing new online undergraduate and graduate degree programs, major and minor clusters and certificate options that place an emphasis on meeting Quality Matters standards and are consistent across programs.
  • We are adopting a market-driven, per-unit pricing approach that reflects the current marketplace for online programs to ensure that UA programs are competitive with peer institutions.

Increase Graduation Rates

  • We are reviewing major requirements to streamline where possible and are enhancing the Smart Planner to help students find efficient pathways to graduation.
  • Recognizing the increasing complexity of students’ lives, we are leveraging online, and evening and weekend and summer session opportunities to increase number and frequency of courses taught.
  • To help reduce cost of degree for individual students and to promote access, we are adding to the availability of 2+2 transfer programs, accelerated Masters programs and dual-degree programs.

The modest tuition increase of 2% for in-state undergraduate and graduate students and 5% for out-of-state students will help ensure that these initiatives are successful by providing resources that can be strategically allocated for continuing implementation of the Never Settle academic and business plan.

Along with this proposal, and in concert with Governor Brewer’s priority on affordability and access, the UA is working to create a means to stabilize tuition costs for cohorts of students. Through consultation with undergraduate and graduate student leadership the UA is also proposing a guaranteed tuition plan for the freshmen and transfer students entering this fall. This plan would be mandatory for all new students and optional for all continuing undergraduate students. In our discussions with student leadership this year, their focus was also on a predictable model to help students and their families plan. While this is proposed for undergraduates only for this coming year, UA staff are exploring the potential to make this available for some populations of graduate students the following year.

The UA plan is modeled after the successful Pledge Program at NAU, allowing students eight consecutive semesters of a guaranteed tuition rate. The differential to the proposed increase in base tuition rate for current students will be 4%, thus the proposed tuition for all new students will be 6% higher than the current rate for residents and 9% higher for nonresidents. This guaranteed rate will be set annually for each incoming cohort of students. At the end of eight semesters (four years), the rate for continuing students will change to the rate paid by the cohort entering the university the year after them. At the end of a total of ten semesters (5 total years), the rate for continuing students will correspond to the current new rate.

With all of these measures in place, the University of Arizona has a bright future ahead, as do our students and the communities we serve. Thank you for your continued leadership and support. I am happy to answer any questions.