Regents approve NAU’s tuition, fee proposal

Students studying in classroom

Northern Arizona University’s tuition and fee proposal for 2016-17 was unanimously approved by the Arizona Board of Regents this week in Tucson. The proposal includes no tuition increases for 96 percent of continuing Flagstaff undergraduate students on the Pledge program.

“We’ve balanced state support with accessibility and affordability,” said NAU President Rita Cheng. “We listened to the benefits our Pledge program has afforded students and families in providing predictability and planning for college costs. With expected modest support from the state this year, we were able to continue this program and moderate tuition changes for next year. We look forward to rebuilding this partnership with the state through a new university funding model in the future.”

Cheng said Personalized Learning, NAU’s competency-based program, continues to be a low-cost option, along with blended learning and concurrent programs with community colleges across Arizona.

Board chair Jay Heiler said the university system must provide top-notch education for the people of Arizona and continue to attract those outside of Arizona to its universities.

“Even as state support has been drawn down significantly, the number of those in need of support to attend college has been going up significantly in our state,” he said. “It’s one of the complexities of the financial model the presidents of our universities are constantly trying to navigate and adjust for with a very uncertain and downward moving fiscal environment.”

Total tuition and mandatory fees for incoming resident undergraduate students starting on the Flagstaff campus in the fall of 2016 will be $10,764, with the base tuition guaranteed for four years. Graduate student tuition will increase 4.3 percent for residents and 3.6 percent for nonresidents. The subscription rate for Personalized Learning increases from $2,500 to $3,000 per six-month period.

Regent Bill Ridenour commended NAU for keeping the tuition increase to a minimum. He said the approved proposal is “bare bones” and does not provide enough revenue for all that is needed at NAU, given the deferment of capital expenditures resulting from state budget cuts.

The approved proposal includes a mandatory $5 increase per credit hour for information technology, which will standardize technology in all classrooms, increase tech support for students, improve management of facility space and boost data security initiatives. More than 350 course fees were eliminated, including many related to supporting information technology needs in different departments.

The regents also approved a metric to measure bachelor’s degrees awarded in four years to Arizona community college transfer students, one of 13 overarching performance metrics to drive increases in educational attainment. Board officers for the 2016-17 year were elected Thursday, with Regent Greg Patterson assuming the role of chair in July.

The ABOR news release on all three universities’ tuition and fee proposals is available online.