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Arizona Public Universities Face Coronavirus-Related Tuition Losses

Published: Monday, April 13, 2020 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, April 13, 2020 - 9:08am

The University of Arizona isn’t the only public university in Arizona that could lose tuition revenue during the pandemic.

More than 48% of undergraduate students enrolled at Arizona State University are from outside the state. And nearly 68% of graduate students are nonresidents.

Across all three public universities — ASU, UA and Northern Arizona University — more than 46% of students are nonresidents.

John Arnold, executive director of the Arizona Board of Regents, said university funding from the state budget was cut during the Great Recession, forcing universities to change their business model.

“And to do that, what we did is we went out and attracted significant numbers of non-resident and international students to our campuses,” Arnold said. “The reason we did that is those students pay a market rate for tuition and fees, while our in-state students pay significantly below market rate, they’re all subsidized.”

If those students are unable or unwilling to return to those schools in the fall, the loss in out-of-state tuition revenue could disrupt university operations, he said.

“We’re heavily reliant on non-residents and international students to provide those revenues to keep our universities afloat,” Arnold said.

Arnold acknowledged the federal government has provided some funding to help universities cope with the pandemic, but that it pales in comparison to potential tuition revenue losses.

As the state looks to recover from the economic fallout of the coronavirus, Arnold said the Arizona Legislature should avoid cuts to universities.

“I think it’s important as the state looks at its budget that cuts to our universities just be off the table,” he said. “We’re facing revenue losses to the tuition side, so we really need the state to not cut us on the budget side.”

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