AUDITOR GENERAL EXAMINES STUDENT FEES
Over the past year, the Arizona Auditor General examined student fees at Arizona’s public universities.
Tuition and fee reforms are priorities for the board and have been for the past several years. This pattern of reform and incorporating best practices also applies to fee setting. During recent years, ABOR took several steps to ensure the appropriateness of university fees and to provide students transparency into the fee setting process and fee amounts.
- Including fee amounts in course catalogues;
- Developing and providing online price calculators;
- Reviewing the information required in fee setting applications;
- Clarifying policy expectations on which fees need ABOR approval;
- Clarifying fee use requirements;
- Improving fee revenue tracking mechanisms;
- Strengthening the internal audit function;
- Providing web streaming of public hearings on tuition and fee reform; and
- Developing student boards to review fee proposals.
In addition, ABOR restructured the process it uses to review tuition and fee proposals. As part of this new process, ABOR receives and reviews detailed explanations of fee proposals including budget information and holds a public tuition and fee workshop during which tuition and fee proposals are carefully presented and reviewed.
As a result of these efforts and as noted by the Auditor General, ABOR employs many fee setting and management best practices. The board is currently reviewing new reforms to improve transparency around the tuition and fee-setting process, and to ensure even more cost predictability for students and families. Additional policy reforms may include establishment of a fee sunset-review process; increasing transparency of the universities’ fee development process; development of a summary/guide for students detailing the fee setting process and identifying key contact personnel. In 2014, the board rejected proposed policy changes that would have delegated more fee-setting authority to the presidents.
The recommendations from the Auditor General fit well within the board’s continued efforts to continuously work to improve fee and tuition setting processes.