Across the country, universities and colleges are raising tuition as states cut public education funding.

The Arizona Board of Regents will consider tuition increases for next year at all three state universities during meetings Thursday and Friday in Tucson at the University of Arizona.

The proposed increases vary, with returning Arizona State University students facing a nearly 16 percent increase and new students expected to pay at least 18 percent more than last year's freshmen.

And those proposals came before Friday, when state lawmakers agreed to more cuts than the university presidents used to determine their plans.

Arizona students' counterparts across the country also face increases.

The University of Florida's president recently proposed a 30 percent hike, though lawmakers there put a 15 percent cap on increases.

Georgia students have been hit by double-digit increases the past few years. Utah State University undergraduate students will pay 9 percent more next year. University of Illinois students will pay 6.9 percent.

Arizona is one of 43 states that have cut public college and university budgets during the latest economic downturn, according to the Center on Budget and Policy.

While student aid has increased the last two years, according to the College Board, and helped some students, Congress has proposed cuts to the federal Pell Grant program.

Elma Delic, 21, chairman of the Arizona Students' Association and a student at the University of Arizona, said there's no easy answer.

"We understand the position the universities are in given the reductions from the state. But we're concerned with the impact on students and their families," she said. "The bigger picture is the overall total cost of attendance: textbooks, rent, all the other expenses that go with living as a college student on and off campus. People tend to focus on base tuition, but students are paying a lot more than that base tuition number."

Even with Arizona's increases the past few years, the state Board of Regents said tuition and fees for resident undergraduates at Arizona State University's main campus this year is 25 percent below the average tuition and fees for 14 similar-sized, research-base universities around the country. The schools range from Pennsylvania State University, University Park, where resident undergraduate tuition this year is $15,520, to Florida State University, where resident undergraduates paid $5,238 this year.

The data also shows ASU's rate is 16 percent below the median price for the same schools.

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