NAU brings predictability to cost of education with guaranteed tuition proposal

Northern Arizona University is proposing a tuition plan for new undergraduates that would bring predictability to the cost of attending the university.

NAU President John Haeger announced a pilot “block tuition” proposal that would guarantee first-time, full-time freshmen and transfer students the same tuition rate for eight semesters.

Beginning with the fall 2008 semester, new in-state freshmen and transfer students would pay an annual tuition of $5,145, which is 12 percent more than current in-state tuition. That tuition rate would remain the same for the following three years. New out-of-state freshmen and transfer students would pay $16,243 per year, which is 14 percent more than current out-of-state tuition. The out-of-state tuition rate is also guaranteed for the next three years.

“Our survey research indicates parents are very concerned about education costs,” said David Bousquet, NAU vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. “This proposal directly addresses that concern and will allow parents and students to plan without fear of sudden spikes in tuition costs.”

In addition to bringing predictability to planning for college expenses, Haeger said the block tuition proposal provides an incentive for students to stay at Northern Arizona University and graduate.

Direct links to charts:

Undergraduate, full-time, new and transfer student Block Tuition at the Flagstaff campus
Current/continuing undergraduate and graduate student tuition at all sites and new graduate student tuition at all sites
Undergraduate, new and transfer, resident student tuition at NAU-Yuma and Distance Learning sites
Proposed health and wellness fee

“Block tuition, coupled with the university’s ‘Finish in Four’ guarantee, stresses the importance and value of graduating on time,” he said. “These two strategies will have a positive impact on retention and graduation rates.”

NAU’s “Finish in Four” program is an agreement between the university and students who participate to guarantee the courses are available to enable students to graduate in four years.

“Graduating in four years is the single largest action a person can take to reduce their educational debt burden,” Bousquet said.

An added benefit of the block tuition proposal is that the value of a student’s scholarship as a percentage of tuition will remain constant, providing further assistance to parents and students seeking consistency and predictability in college costs, according to Bousquet.

The university also will offer the block tuition plan to continuing undergraduates on the Flagstaff campus who may choose to participate.

For all other continuing students at the Flagstaff campus, the president is seeking a tuition increase of 7 percent. This tuition rate would apply to continuing in-state, out-of-state, undergraduate and graduate students at the Flagstaff campus as well as graduate students and non-resident undergraduates at statewide sites.

The university is asking for a 5 percent increase for new and continuing resident undergraduate students at the university’s statewide sites.

Haeger said tuition increases are necessary to keep pace with inflation and to fund essential university priorities. These include bringing faculty salaries to market to ensure the quality of education in the classroom. Another priority is to address the $70 million in critical building and classroom renovations that are needed on the Flagstaff campus.

The president and other administrators have met with several student groups throughout campus to discuss the block tuition plan as well as a proposed health and wellness fee.

The requested fee, phased in over four years, would improve the delivery of health and recreation services, including construction of a new health and wellness center and significant expansion of recreational facilities and fields.

Students currently pay a $40 per semester health and recreation fee. The university proposes increasing that semester fee by $25 in fall 2008. The subsequent per semester increases would be $80 in fall 2009, $65 in fall 2010 and $40 in fall 2011.

The multi-year fee would provide for additional health-care staffing; five new recreational fields with artificial turfs, lights and restrooms; improvements to the fieldhouse recreational facilities; construction of 26,500 feet of space for weight and fitness use; and construction of a 42,600-square-foot addition to the Recreation Center. The facility would replace the university’s 40-year-old health center and become a Recreation, Health and Wellness Center, providing physical health, mental health, rehabilitation and recreational services.

“A four-year fee schedule has been proposed, so that students begin to see immediate benefits as early as the fall 2008 semester,” Bousquet said.

A survey of students on the Flagstaff campus revealed that 64 percent of the respondents supported the proposed fee. The survey also netted an all-time-high response rate of about 19 percent for any student survey, referendum or election.

Northern Arizona University is not proposing any other program or course fees for the 2008-09 school year.