University of Arizona resident students will pay about $1,800 more in tuition and fees next school year - but they'll also get a $750 rebate.
The Arizona Board of Regents struggled to approve tuition rates at a meeting Thursday at the UA.
UA president Robert Shelton had proposed using the school's $28 million cash reserves to minimize a tuition hike and cover the cost of some rising expenses, including employee benefits and utilities.
Regents chairwoman Anne Mariucci wanted the universities to spend all of the rainy-day fund on easing the tuition burden, saying this is the day the funds were meant for. Her plan was made known to Shelton only an hour before the meeting.
Ultimately a compromise was suggested by regent Rick Myers. The university president got his tuition increase, but the regents ordered him to give all of the reserve funds to students by way of $750 rebates.
The rebate is for resident undergraduate students only.
The tuition vote was 7-2, with regent Dennis DeConcini and student regent Jennifer Ginther against the plan.
The board set base tuition and mandatory fees at $10,035 for residents, a 22 percent increase over last year and twice the price from five years ago.
The UA is facing a $100 million budget gap next year, including $78 million in state budget cuts and increased expenses in areas including employee benefits, utilities and library books.
The school will handle the gap with $61 million in reduced spending - including hundreds of jobs cuts - and about $11 million in increased net tuition revenue. The student rebates will deplete UA's entire $28 million cash reserve.
The UA won't reduce spending on financial aid. Many students receive a discount on tuition.
In the end, Shelton said, the rebate plan is good for the UA because it allows the school to spend its reserves, which it had planned to do, while also helping students.
Student president Emily Fritze said the plan is better for students and their families than the original proposal, because they will pay $1,050 more after the rebate instead of the full $1,800; however, many students would prefer a lower tuition to a rebate because they wouldn't have to pay up front.
The board also voted to raise tuition costs at Arizona State and Northern Arizona universities next year. The board approved a rebate plan for NAU, but only for a limited number of students.
Contact reporter Becky Pallack at email@example.com or 807-8012.