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Bill would require all college students to pay $2,000 of their tuition

The House Appropriations committee narrowly passed a bill today that would require all university students to pay at least $2,000 of their tuition.

Two Republicans, Rep. Vic Williams of Tucson and Rep. Steve Urie of Gilbert, joined four Democrats opposing the bill, which brought out contentious debate and an abundant showing of opposition by students and the universities. Seven Republicans voted for the measure, but the votes from the majority of them came with disclaimers that their approval was tentative.

The debate at times got contentious and ended with Rep. John Kavanagh, a Fountain Hills Republican, accusing Rep. Matt Heinz, a Tucson Democrat, of trying to embarrass him and scolding him for fighting so hard for an amendment to bill he had no intention of supporting.

“I’m very surprised and dismayed that one member would bring a shot gun to not even a knife fight,” Kavanagh said.

Heinz said that members putting the bill forward should be embarrassed.

Kavanagh said he sponsored the bill, HB2675, because last year during an appropriations hearing he learned that 48 percent of university students don’t pay any tuition.

Christine Thompson, lobbyist for the Arizona Board of Regents, said the figure is more at 25 percent.

Kavanagh’s bill would exempt students on athletic and merit scholarships and he is prepared to craft an amendment that would exempt students who have to move away from home to attend and factor in the additional costs for students who are required to live in dormitories and pay for meal cards.

Student leaders complained that the bill affects the neediest of students and that the minimum requirement of $2,000 a year is enough to bar many students from enrolling.

University of Arizona Student Body President James Allen said that as a Republican he believes that students should have “skin in the game,” but that the additional expense will be enough to break students who encounter unforeseen circumstances.

“They don’t need an additional $2,000 of skin in the game,” Allen said.

Rep. Michelle Ugenti was unsympathetic.

“Welcome to life,” she said.

She said the state shouldn’t be required to subsidize unforeseen circumstances and that the bill isn’t unreasonable.

Robin Nebrich, with the Arizona Students Association, said student debt is increasing and the average amount of debt for Arizona graduates is $20,000, and the additional tuition would only add to that.

Kavanagh was unimpressed.

“After four years they only have $20,000 in debt,” Kavanagh said, comparing that to the cost of a new car. He added that the tuition and an estimated $1,500 a year in books equals only $14,000 at the end of four years.

Rep. Chad Campbell, a Phoenix Democrat, was one of the harshest critics of the bill and he took umbrage with Kavanagh’s use of the word “only.”

“I’m still not sure what problem we’re trying to solve with this,” he said.

Kavanagh said he couldn’t understand what additional expenses a student would have to drive up debt to tens of thousands of dollars.

“Casinos?” Kavanagh asked.

Heinz complained that some members of the committee were treating the students with open hostility.



  2. This Legislature’s actions are deplorable. I’m glad to know that Veterans who receive full GI Bill benefits will be undercut and have to pay now. I’m proud of my service; thanks for the kick in the teeth Rep. Ugenti. I know 49 other states happy to receive my VA payments. I guess that’s life.

  3. Are these idots on drugs? When do they get back from outer space? What reality do they live in?

  4. Will this bill hinder students from acquiring a college degree? If the answer is yes…why do it…if we need a well educated workforce to stimulate business growth and fulfill workforce needs. Or, is this bill by its design intended to keep students out of college and it is one more obstacle in their path? If it is not necessary, why would legislators even consider this?

  5. “Kavanagh said he couldn’t understand what additional expenses a student would have to drive up debt to tens of thousands of dollars.”

    Well, let’s see just what drives up the cost….

    – Tuition at a conservative $300-$350 per credit hour multiplied by 12 credit hours at least per full-time semester, 8-10 semester average to graduation with a Bacehlors if one never repeats a class
    – Textbooks at usually around $75 to $80 a book, typically 2-3 per class
    – School supplies that can include anything from paper and pens to software depending on the degree
    – Gas and/or bus cards plus the manditory parking permits most universities require whether or not you have a car ($150 per semester for parking when I graduated from ASU and I didn’t even have a vehicle or even a learner’s permit)
    – Meals and/or meal plans
    – Dorm costs if you live on campus and rent if you don’t
    – Obligatory gym fees get charged at ASU, even if you don’t use the gym
    – Lab fees for most science, engineering, or biology classes
    – Library fees for inter-library loans done in express time because that is often the only way to get them in time for that ever-present paper, even if ordered at the biginning of the semester for finals
    – Etc.

    Do I really need to lay out the overall expenses of college life for our government to read? Unless the majority of our house leaders come from priviledged backgrounds or never attended college at all, they should know these things. If they think it is easy to work full-time to cover all these expenses and the general expenses of living while in college (so working a job that does not require a degree), then they are living in a dream world.

  6. This bill does not add $2000 to the college cost-it says everyone should pay at least $2000 per year of thier own college education. I think it’s about time-every state should do this. I’m tired of working so hard to stay in the middle class that my 4 kids are paying thier own share of college tuition and the single mom by choice’s tuition as well. I really love the states where the 2.0 student is given a free ride to college because his/her parents are “low income”-getting all kinds of free rides on everyone elses dime all along. When people participate in actually paying for something it has a whole new meaning and value. Let’s check the GPA of the Free students against the payers and see who is really doing well…..Payers are more likely your good decision makers and employable in the end. Since I’ve paid all of my college tuition and books while working full time and working out child care schedules with my working husband so I could do this ….I’m all for PAY YOUR WAY! It’s good for you!

  7. Based just on what this article states they are not raising the tuition an additional $2000, they are simply requiring that minus academic and athletic scholarships, all students must contribute to the cost of their tuition. Why is this an issue? Who are these students getting free rides that aren’t based on academic or athletic scholarships? Oh the horrors of learning how the real world works!

  8. Maybe any college accepting students on federal student aid (all of them) should only be allowed to raise tuition and fees by the average annual increase in the cost of living. It’s all about the law of supply and demand. The colleges are all in competition with each other to draw the best students, programs, faculty, etc. – so they spent too much money on frivolous things so as to attract people, and there’s always plenty of students with their student loans, willing to pay whatever these colleges want to charge. They’ve got to do something; tuition and fees are skyrocketing everywhere!

  9. I worked and put myself through college at the University of Arizona. I did not live near my family (6hrs away). I qualified for Pell Grant because my family was poor. I did not have a car to go home over holidays. I did not get a dorm space because they did not have enough dorm rooms to house me when I attended school there. I had to live in an apt and pay rent and pay my tuition. So $2000 extra dollars per year on top of what I was already paying would have killed me. I don’t know what these legislators are thinking. Not everyone has fond memories of college life. Not when I killed myself every weekend working 24 out of 48 hours just so I could attend school full time and have time to study. It still took me 6 yrs just to graduate because I couldn’t take more than 15 credit hours per semester, work, and keep my grades up. My science major required 18 credit hrs for most of the semesters. So I did what I had to do to graduate. These legistlators are making assumptions. You know what happens when you assume right? Make Pell Grant students expempt at the very least. They still have to pay a large chunk of the tuition and believe me, family is probably not helping out. My parents never took out a parent loan and I am still paying off my tuition today. Minimum wage does not even begin to help. I was working three different jobs every summer. Just trying to build up my bank account a little. I couldn’t afford summer school and my opportunities while attending college were very very limited. I also did not even own a computer until senior year. I had to pay for all the printer paper I used in the library and computer labs around campus. Nothing on campus was free. And believe me the computer labs were full many times when I needed to use them. This is not a sob story. This was my reality. I graduated with a good GPA because I was tenacious and focused. Legislators really need to think hard about the poorer students who’s lives they are literally destroying! I am very happy I got my education. It was totally worth it, but these legislators never had to walk a mile in my shoes!

  10. State Rep. JohnKavanagh

    I am puzzled that my attempt to have students who have not earned scholarships owing to either academic or athletic accomplishment has met such resistance. I am only asking students who received unearned tuition subsidies to pay $2,000 per year towards their tuition – only about $20%. And to make it even less onerous, they can use any non-university administered aid to pay that last $2,000 and the bill will exempt students who have to pay room and board due to their not living within commuting distance of a state university. That’s right. I still allow the universities to bestow about $7,000 in unearned subsidies on these students and many can make up the difference with other aid, work-study pay or loans.

    I do not believe it fair that most of the people paying for these tuition subsidizes are taxpayers without four-year college degrees who will statistically earn half a million to one million dollars less in their lifetimes that the college educated students whose tuition they are subsidizing.

    HB2675 is necessary because the universities are internally subsidizing the tuition of non-academic and non-athletic scholars to the degree that nearly half of in-state undergraduate students pay no tuition whatsoever and almost all of the rest pay discounted rates. In fact, these unearned subsidizes are so out of hand that even though ASU has a tuition of about $9,600 per year, the average student pays only $2,931. In these troubled economic times, it is unfair to taxpayers to give away a university education free to those who have not earned it via academic or athletic accomplishments.

    Paying tuition of $2,000 per year is not a great burden because students can still get that money by working, getting non-university aid or by taking out readily available student loans. If they exclusively used loans, the total amount would only be $8,000 for a four-year degree. I will even concede $16,000 to also pay for books and fees. People, including most students from the looks of the overcrowded ASU parking lots, have no trouble paying that and more for cars using loans. Isn’t a university degree worth more than a Chevy Sonic?

    Ending the full tuition write-off for non-academic and non-athletic scholars will also have three benefits beyond being fiscally fair to taxpayers. First, it will free up $18,000,000 that the universities can use to improve their academic activities. The state is not taking this money from the universities. The universities keep every dime of it.

    Second, under the current heavily subsidized tuition system, it is cheaper for many students to attend a state university than their local community college. This unintended incentive lures many students needing more academic preparation away from their local community college to the universities. These students would be better served by attending a year or two at a local community college with smaller class sizes and a greater emphasis on instruction before going to a large impersonal university.

    In fact, some blame the low graduation rates of our universities, which hover in the mid-60% range, on these less academically prepared students entering the universities, being overwhelmed and then failing out. The resultant lower university graduation rates then lower the national rankings of our universities and devalue the degrees of all their past, present and future graduates. In addition, the premature integration of less academically prepared students into the university system lowers the classroom experience for all attendees.

    Finally, making non-academic and non-athletic scholars pay this nominal $2,000 tuition will give them a greater stake in their education. Often, people who get things for free do not take them as serious as they might have had they paid something for them. While paying only about 20% of one’s tuition is still a small amount, it is a motivation nevertheless. The small payment will also dissuade people who have little interest or motivation to attend college from attending anyway because it is free, so they have little to lose.

    Free tuition works well when the recipient earns it but carries a high-unseen cost, when dispensed to others. “There is no such thing as a free lunch” and “Everyone needs a little skin in the game” are adages that have withstood the test of time because they are true and the sooner student’s learn this, the better of they, the taxpayers and the universities will be.

  11. If you’re offering an education, tell me how much it costs and I’ll be responsible for paying the bills. If someone should offer me a scholarship, the tuition bill is still mine to pay. I’m just doing it with “help”. Even if the scholarship comes from ASU itself, notice that the accounting office STILL makes me responsible for the full bill. The accountants just accept the scholarship money and apply it TO my account. But the accounting is all in place. The scholrship is not a discount, it is money GIVEN to be used for school. If my “rich papa” comes back from the dead during my junior year and decides to write a huge check and sends it to the University to apply to my account, and it ends up with a surplus, who are you to say anything to me about that?

    If I receive a grant from the feds and a scholarship from an outside source, who are you to tell me that I owe the state of Arizona anything else?

    Identify the cost of attending, set the tuition rate and subsidize as much as you plan on subsidizing. And then go home and mind your own business. If you’re upset that people in AZ don’t pay enough towards their substandard educations, then go have a funding discussion with the board of regents.

  12. please sir, may i have another?

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