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ASU statement on 2015-2016 tuition proposal to ABOR

ASU President Michael Crow and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey

ASU President Michael Crow addresses the Arizona Board of Regents and Gov. Doug Ducey, April 9, at the Memorial Union on ASU's Tempe campus. Gov. Ducey spoke of the difficult job of balancing the budget by reducing funding to the state's three major universities.
Photo by: Charlie Leight/ASU News

April 10, 2015

Over the past decade, Arizona State University has evolved at an accelerated pace to meet the needs of our students and to support aspirations for Arizona's future. Enrollment has grown significantly, as have opportunities for students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

Through innovation and the embrace of an academic culture that puts students first, graduation rates have climbed while our research enterprise has nearly quadrupled.

The successes of our model as a New American University attracted a record 100,000 applications last year, and we looked to the coming year with every intention of continuing our rapid advancement. New faculty must be hired to sustain our upward trajectory as an institution, discussions with local and tribal leaders across Arizona have been underway about opportunities ASU could bring to their areas.

But the decision to reduce the state's investment in public higher education by $99 million will require us to find new revenue and new innovations to continue making progress towards our goals. All of this can be disruptive. The reduced state support in the coming year translates into a $53 million cut at ASU, and that will have an impact on operations, hiring, the expansion of existing programs and the initiation of new ones. It will also require us to ask our students and their families to contribute more to the cost of the educational experience that they have come to expect of ASU.

We have had to rethink and realign the path for our entire Strategic Enterprise Framework that was developed and approved in 2011 and on which ASU has based its planning assumptions including the current revenue model. The model reflected that over a ten-year period working toward 2020, ASU would plan on very modest state investment increases (all based on performance), would limit tuition increases for Arizona residents to less than three percent per year and that following parity funding realignment, we would not use enrollment as a planning concept for state investment again. In addition, we outlined significant new revenue from ASU Online and out-of-state enrollment as a key element of the plan.

In revising the planning assumptions, we will continue to build a university that is steadfastly focused on accessibility, excellence and impact. ASU is more entrepreneurial, nimble and innovative than it has been at any time in its history and ASU will continue to make great progress in the days ahead.

In fact, ASU is one of the most efficient universities in the country. After the global economic downturn of 2008 forced dramatic reductions in state support, the university implemented broad structural changes and made deep cuts in its operations, including the elimination of 2,055 positions. As a result of those moves, the university operates at a high level of efficiency today.

Our rate of expenditures per degree is among the best when compared to other research­ intensive public universities. Our ratio of administrators to students is also admirably low. The improved academic outcomes and increased research activity have been achieved with a faculty and administration whose size has remained largely unchanged.

Still, we must live within our means and the reduction in state support will require us to cut operations by $34 million in the coming fiscal year. Some units will be forced to make cuts, while others will need to set aside plans for new initiatives or hires. The adjustments are being made in such a way as to minimize any impact that decreased state investment will have on the student experience. They also are designed to support priorities identified by students and faculty members without shifting an undue burden to our students, but the decrease in state investment does require us to ask our students and their families to contribute more to the cost of their education.

The state's primary interest has been in supporting students from Arizona who want to pursue a higher education. To understand fully the difficulty of absorbing this $53 million reduction in funding, consider that it represents a 15 percent cut on a per in-state student basis. For that reason, we need to ask our Arizona students and their families to contribute a little more than we previously planned toward the cost of their educational experience. A temporary one-year $320 surcharge fee for Arizona students is proposed to help fill a portion of the gap until the state's finances stabilize.

ASU's rising prominence nationally and growing awareness of its achievements around the world have attracted students to the university from across the country and from around the globe. In order to continue to provide the quality academic experience that they have come to expect, we will be asking non-resident students to pay more in tuition.

Tuition rates for students from other states would increase by four percent. We remain committed to sustaining a diverse community reflective of the university's stature as a nationally recognized institution of higher education that prepares students for the global economy, and our tuition rates for students from out-of-state remain very competitive.

Like some of our peer institutions, ASU plans to establish an international tuition rate. This is intended to ensure that we can continue to support the unique needs of our international students, delivering on both the quality of education and the collegiate experience that originally attracted them to ASU. The rate is designed to keep tuition as affordable as possible while continuing to extend such services as immigration advising, academic enrichment and professional development through the International Student and Scholars Center, as well as enhanced career advising, internships and employment services. Even with the new international tuition rate, which represents an 11.6 percent increase for undergraduate international students and a 10.9 percent increase for graduate international students, ASU remains one of the most affordable universities ranked among the top 25 schools for international students.

These adjustments will allow us to sustain a high-quality academic environment and preserve the full value of an ASU degree while maintaining competitive tuition rates. Further decreases in state investment, however, would carry serious risks, including larger classes, upward pressure on tuition and reduced competitiveness for Arizona from an economic development standpoint. It is our hope that this difficult period for Arizona is already passing, and that in the following fiscal years, state policymakers will restore support for public higher education and ASU will regain its full momentum as a model for the New American University.

To see further details of ASU's tuition proposal, click here.

For members of the media needing more information, please contact ASU Media Relations at 480-965-3502.