Capitol aims for stable college tuition - CBS 5 - KPHO

Capitol aims for stable college tuition

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

At Arizona State University, students know they won't see a tuition hike next year but they also know it's just a matter of time before the school ups its prices. The cost of higher education is holding Jessica Escobar back from pursuing a master's degree.

"I'm actually not planning on going to graduate school for that reason right now," Escobar said.

Tuition at Arizona State and the University of Arizona has nearly doubled from $6,800 in 2009 to over $10,000 in 2014.

Students like Escobar say the cost of school is getting too expensive and it's a statement both Arizona Democrats and Republicans agree on.

"The tuition rates are way too high in this state," Arizona House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said. "The Board of Regents have jacked-up tuition way too much over the past several years."

Campbell is proposing a bill that would lock-in tuition rates at all state universities. The tuition freeze would mean freshmen enrolling in 2014 would pay the same price throughout their undergraduate studies until 2018, giving those students the chance to complete their degrees.

At Northern Arizona University, students at its Flagstaff campus already have fixed tuition under the Pledge Program. Gov. Jan Brewer cites the program as a possible fix to higher education in her "Four Cornerstones of Reform."

Escobar says she'd like a fixed tuition but some lawmakers say it might not help. Republican Rep. Ethan Orr says it leaves future college attendees vulnerable to massive rate hikes.

"I don't want to see tuition go up at all but I also know we need to give the universities the resources to keep that from happening," Orr said.

Orr is currently drafting legislation that would boost state funding for Arizona's three universities. The state earmarked nearly $30 million for state colleges this year but Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University requested a total of nearly $100 million.

Some lawmakers are hesitant to dig deeper into the budget to come up with that kind of funding because there's no guarantee tuition will go down or remain stable.

Orr says his plan accounts for that. It would render more financial aid for Arizona students and bring in more money for the state when those students begin to pay off those loans.

Undergrads like Escobar just want to see more reasonable costs.

"It just keeps getting higher and higher," she said. "I can't image when I'm going to start paying [my loans], it's going to be pretty tough."

For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook and Twitter.

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