On Friday I saw two pieces of jarring news: that tuition at Arizona universities had gone up 96% since 2007, the year I started my undergrad at ASU; also, that tuition has increased in 18 of the last 20 years. Tuition hikes were a frequent and terrible thing while I was a Sun Devil – in short span the state government cut the $1 billion higher ed budget in half. I was privileged enough that my parents had agreed to help me with my tuition, but I knew a lot of people who worked all semester long in order to pay for the next semester – and each year that got harder.
And yet, I never stopped to think about how rapid the change between 2007 and 2011 was compared to years prior. Anne Ryman, who covers higher education for the Arizona Republic, sent me this link [pdf] on tuition over the last 20 years. The shift in the scale of tuition hikes is pretty dramatic, so I decided to graph it out. The result is not a happy one:
And I’m not 100% sure if this data includes university-imposed fees – which fall outside of what the Arizona Board of Regents approves. when I started high school in 2003 the tuition hikes had just begun in earnest – they stood at $3,593, and when I started at ASU it was a few dollars shy of $5000. When I finished my student teaching and graduated in 2011 it was $9,716 for the seniors that I had taught. And subsequent freshmen continue to pay more and more.
On Friday, the university presidents issued their proposals for next year’s tuition. Arizona State is proposing a 3% increase which will bring it within a stone’s throw of $10,000 – touting the small increase as the lowest in the past decade. The University of Arizona proposed the same percentage (they’re already above $10,000), and Northern Arizona University asked for 5%. If these are all approved, the three universities in Arizona will be over or dangerously close to $10,000 tuition a year. With that in mind, if you take a glance at Article 11, Section 6 of the Arizona Constitution, you will see the words: “The university and all other state educational institutions… shall be as nearly free as possible.”