January 9, 2020

Lack of State Financial Aid Reduces College Affordability

Arizona does not have a state-sponsored need-based grant aid program – and this is a major barrier to making college more affordable for all Arizonans. It means that all grant aid that Arizona students receive—which is vital for low-income students to be able to afford college—derives from the federal government and Arizona’s higher education institutions. Changing this is one of College Success Arizona’s organizational priorities.

In 2018, the average tuition at public four-year colleges in Arizona was more than 91% higher than it was in 2008. Increases in college costs are directly related to declines in school enrollment, dropping an estimated 3% for every $1,000 increase. If we want to reach a higher education attainment rate of 60% in Arizona, we must make going to college more affordable for all.

To improve college affordability, access, and attainment, Arizona can:

  • Encourage and incentivize universal completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In 2018, only 43% of college-bound students in Arizona completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in Arizona. Reaching 52% FAFSA completion could lead to $64 million more in aid for Arizona students.
  • Develop and fully fund a robust and sustainable need-based grant aid program.
  • Establish a higher education funding strategy that restores funding and prioritizes college affordability, especially for students from underrepresented groups.

To learn more about college affordability, read our policy brief Access, Price, Value: Improving College Affordability in Arizona.

Affordability Video