Report: Arizona Saw Biggest Post-Recession Tuition Increases In Nation

[Photo by JECO Creative Commons]

By Daniel Perle

WASHINGTON – Arizona universities have posted the largest tuition increases in the nation since the start of the recession, with the $5,355 increase per student more than twice the national average, according to a recent national survey.

One of the authors of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report said the increase was not surprising in Arizona, a state that’s “a bit notorious for how many tax cuts they’ve passed,” leading to reduced support for higher education and higher tuition costs for students.

“Arizona has stood out pretty significantly,” said the center’s Michael Mitchell. Although the rise in tuition could not all be directly attributed to cuts in state funding for higher education, Mitchell said the magnitude of the cuts made them one of the primary factors.


John Arnold, executive the Arizona Board of Regents, said in an e-mailed statement that the rising tuition numbers reflect the “massive, post-Recession cuts to public higher education in Arizona.” But he said the board has worked to soften the blow on students.

“Through aggressive financial aid, cost containment and the development of alternative revenues, the board and universities have done all they can to protect Arizona’s students and families from these reductions,” Arnold said.

The CBPP report said Arizona had the highest increase in tuition dollars per in-state, four-year student and the second-highest percentage increase in tuition, with its 91.3 percent increase trailing only Louisiana’s 105.4 percent growth.

Along with the higher tuition, the report said Arizona also saw some of the steepest cuts in state support for higher education since 2008. The 55.7 percent reduction in state support, adjusted for inflation, was highest in the nation and the $3,742-per-student cut it represents was fourth-highest.

The changes moved Arizona from having the 14th-lowest cost of college in the nation to 14th-highest. The shifts were harder on some groups than others: In 2018, college cost a typical Arizona family 19.3 percent of its income, but the number was 24.4 percent for black families in the state and 23.3 percent for Hispanic families.

While state support for higher education has started to slowly turn around as the economy improves, the rising tuition numbers reflect what one former student leader calls misplaced priorities by the state legislature.

“This has been going on for a long time now, at first they wanted to blame the recession,” said Cesar Aguilar, executive director of the Arizona Students Association.

State Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix, agreed that lawmakers in the Republican-led Legislature are largely to blame.

“You cut funding to institutions, middle- and lower-income families can’t afford it,” said Alston, a member of the House Education Committee.

Arnold said the regents hope to persuade lawmakers to continue restoring funding for higher education until state support covers 50 percent of all education costs for resident students – well below historical levels, but much higher than the current level of 34 percent.

Alston said that if something is not done, the consequences could be severe. She said Arizona’s higher education model was “unsustainable” and the future economy of the state was threatened by the lack of resources the state provides for its three public universities.

“I’m concerned not just about individual’s access to higher education but our workforce,” Alston said. “I’m glad Arizona’s being noticed, but not for this reason.”

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  1. And you were expecting something different from the socialists that run all of higher education. They are even fleecing the very students that they want to turn into the next generation of socialists. How utterly funny. As long as its other people’s money, right?

  2. According to a Judicial Watch article,
    things like this may be affecting tuition rates:

    University of Arizona Pays Radical 89-yr-old Linguist
    Who Supports Hezbollah $750k to Teach Politics

    A public university is paying a radical 89-year-old linguist
    hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach his famously leftist brand of politics, according to records obtained by Judicial after a months-long battle with the taxpayer-funded institution.

    Judicial Watch launched an investigation after the University of Arizona (UA),
    located in Tucson with an enrollment of about 40,000, 
    announced that it hired Noam Chomsky to teach a general education course for undergraduates titled “What is Politics?”

    In the announcement UA describes Chomsky as a “world-renowned linguist”
    and one of the “most cited scholars in modern history.”

    The reality is that Chomsky is an extreme leftwing propagandist who defends communist regimes—including those in Vietnam and Cuba—and openly supports the anti-Israel and anti-U.S. terrorist organization Hezbollah.

    In fact, Chomsky met with Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon even though the State Department lists the group as a terrorist organization and the elderly professor has publicly supported the militant group’s right to be armed.

    At the time Chomsky was a professor of linguistics at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a private institution that can hire whoever it wants with no public accountability. However, UA is funded with taxpayer dollars and must comply with public-records laws meant to keep government transparent.

    It still took UA four months to provide Judicial Watch with the records of Chomsky’s outrageous deal.

    The records show that the university’s relationship with the decrepit academic began several years ago while he was still teaching at MIT. Chomsky delivered guest lectures at UA, mostly in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the university eventually hired him as a “consultant” for $65,000. His consultant duties were to show up only six times for a politics class with only 38 students, which means he received north of $10,000 a lecture.

    The class met for 7 ½ weeks and Chomsky was to attend only on Thursdays for a total of six sessions, the contract obtained by Judicial Watch shows. UA subsequently hired Chomsky to teach for three years—from 2017 to 2020—at an annual salary of $250,000. The money comes from tuition dollars, grants, contracts and other funds generated by the public institution, the records show.

    Pouring salt on the wound, UA lost nearly $25,000 hosting lectures (“THE HAURY CONVERSATION: NOAM CHOMSKY TALKS WITH TONI MASSARO”) featuring Chomsky. The school promoted one of them as an event in which Chomsky would speak on “a range of topics that could include the refugee crisis, political conflict, democracy, capitalism, climate change and social inequality.”

    The records show that the outlay expenses by UA for both lectures totaled $17,007.01. An invoice for $12,687.16 dated April 30, 2018, appears to be a payment to Eventbrite from the university for the second of the two Chomsky lectures. Ticket sales came in at $12,385 and ticket costs totaled $7,683.24. When combined with the original outlays, UA lost $24,992.41 on both of the Chomsky events. It should be noted that UA has not hosted similar events for any other academic in the past 24 years, making the Chomsky fiasco a unique, one-time production at a loss to taxpayers for a radical leftist political activist.

    The university’s arrangement with Chomsky has outraged many, especially those with connections to the school. Bevan Olyphant, a former Green Berets who taught a leadership class in the honors program at UA, got paid $1,500 a semester and says a full engineering professor at UA receives an average annual salary of $80,000.

    This is enraging considering the university is paying Chomsky an astounding quarter of a million dollars a year. Olyphant, who owns a ranch in southern Arizona, said this is the response he got from the president of UA when he requested that the university bring in conservative speakers: “We can’t do that! We would have a riot,” Olyphant told Judicial Watch. As part of the investigation into Chomsky’s egregious deal, Judicial Watch requested records of UA’s contracts with other speakers and lecturers and none were conservative.

  3. The most important question for Arizonans is why, when the state constitution provides that a college education shall be as close to zero as possible, tuition costs for in-state students is so much higher than this standard. The first place we should look is what are we paying for and can we find ways to do any, or all of it, in a more economical way for those things that actually contribute to a post secondary education. For example, the Board of Regents recently hired a new President of the University of Arizona and two cost elements stood out that impact the cost of education at the U of A. First, the new President is being paid close to a million dollars a year, though he apparently has no experience running a university, (and there are another ten University employees being paid $680,000 a year or MORE) AND second, the retiring President was also paid her full salary and all the rest of her perks and etc for the same year the new President was hired for! This is a glaring example of the apparent lack of seriousness the Board of Regents has towards meeting the constitutional goal of minimizing the student`s cost of a post secondary education for Arizonans. Also, why do we need a university police force for a relatively small sized university entirely within the city limits?

  4. So waste more money on bigger stadiums, training faciities, over-paid coaches (try getting back in the classroom for an education and off the field….), extra curricular clubs, and safe spaces, etc etc. If you’re gonna suck funds out of students and parents, then maybe a 5-day class week instead of 4 is warranted. Oh, but wait… don’t the U Presidents deserve yet ANOTHER retroactive 60-90 thousand dollar per year wage increase… just because….

    And while the tuition (AND FEES) keep increasing it doesn’t stop the Alumini Association from trying to bleed their benefactors or University Departments soliciting money on the side. If there’s a buck available… there’s a State or County organization that is available to waste it.


  6. The four year public university system is decades behind the times. All it is now is indenturing our youth to the government by saddling them with a debt that has no return for a degree that has little or no value.

    Many private universities are now offering fields of study where a bachelors degree can be achieved in 20 months. But the public universities are liberal indoctrination centers that will never, never accept a change. There really is nothing to be learned that can’t be found on the internet in 1/10th the time. So what do you get for $75k? Nothing but Hate America, Go Socialism/Communism indoctrination.

    Parents – the Arizona Universities are a waste for most.

  7. Perhaps they should go into their ‘safe place’ under the bed? Kitchen table? Uni-bathroom stall.. and bring a pillow to cry on. It’s called a family budget, when times are bad.. times are bad, when things are good it’s ham’n bacon, otherwise there ain’t noth’n shaken – real reality – get used to it. As a parent who paid for his college with the GI Bill and a day job going at night and weekends to school it gives one a sense of responsibility to get the job done – had a great time in college misguided and investigating but finally learning how to research, perfect.

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