Annual tuition hikes will be a thing of the past for students starting at the University of Arizona in the fall.

Incoming freshmen will pay 5.4 percent more than those who started at the UA last year in exchange for a promise that their tuition will stay the same for four years of study.

The change was one of several approved Thursday by the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s public university system, at a board meeting in Tucson.

UA President Ann Weaver Hart, who recommended the new rates, said officials did their best to keep the increase low, recognizing that many families already find it challenging to cover tuition.

“We must make sure they can afford to attend,” she said of students.

Under the new, mandatory tuition stability plan, incoming UA freshmen who live in the state will pay $10,957 a year for base tuition and fees, a rate that won’t change for eight consecutive semesters.

Freshmen from outside Arizona will pay 8.7 percent more — for a total bill of $29,421 a year — and get the same rate-freeze deal.

In-state undergraduates returning to the UA this fall will pay 1.8 percent more, bringing their total for basic tuition and fees to $10,581 for a year of full-time study. Returning students won’t be promised a tuition freeze.Those from outside Arizona will pay 4.8 percent more, for a total of $28,379 a year.

The regents also approved tuition increases for UA South, based in Sierra Vista, which is not included in the tuition-stabilization program but may be considered next year.

UA South students who live in the state will see their tuition rise by 1.9 percent for a total of $8,322. Nonresidents will see a 4.9 percent increase to $27,876.

Tuition increases are expected to generate an extra $52 million for the UA during the next school year. This year, tuition and fees raised about $650 million of UA’s total $1.8 billion budget.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at or 573-4138.