What are leaders of Arizona’s public universities doing to make college more affordable?

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 5:34 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2023 at 8:34 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The costs associated with going to college keeps going up. It’s making it harder and harder for middle-class families to afford it. However, the leaders of Arizona’s three public universities said they have programs in place to help. “They’re trying to keep up but it’s not working well,” Matthew McCord, an ASU freshman said.

At a time when college enrollment is down nationally, among Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, total enrollment increased by nearly 9%. “I know a lot of people that probably won’t be coming back next year because they can’t afford it,” said Karlee Chynoweth, an ASU freshman. For many college students, the price tag of their education is top of mind. “A lot of it isn’t even the tuition, half or almost half is room and board and food,” said Crawford McKinstry, an ASU freshman.

According to ASU’s website, the cost of attending for this school year if you live on the Tempe campus is about $31,000. However, if you decide to live at their downtown Phoenix campus, the cost goes up to $33,000. “We’re very concentrated on affordability. We have more Arizonans going to ASU now than we’ve ever had before,” ASU President Michael Crow said. “We can now say that finances will not be your barrier to completion,” he continued.

Crow points to scholarships and grants the university offers to make it more affordable. ASU, UArizona, and NAU spend more than a billion dollars in financial aid. That includes the Arizona Promise Scholarship program, which covers certain low-income students’ tuition and fees. “We are starting from the premise that you have to provide access, affordable access, but it has to be to excellence,” NAU President Jose Cruz Rivera said. He acknowledges that affordability is an issue.

According to NAU’s website, the estimated price tag to attend and live on the Flagstaff campus for a year is just over $29,000. However, they offer programs to help, including if your household income is at or below $65,000 a year. “Basically guarantees any student from a household in Arizona that is admitted to NAU, tuition coverage, full tuition coverage,” Cruz Rivera said.

According to their website, tuition costs $8600 a year. Other expenses, including housing, meals, and transportation, are estimated at almost $19,000. “The problem is that’s not the full cost of attendance. You’ve got to pay for food, you’ve got to pay for housing. Transportation, all the other things,” UArizona President Robert Robbins said.

At UArizona the list price is almost $33,000 per year. Tuition is just over $13,000. Those other expenses are estimated to run you $20,000. Arizona’s Family Investigates asked Robbins about the cost when you multiple it by four – since college is four years. “That’s why we want more promise money,” Robbins said. Robbins is calling on state lawmakers to provide more funding to higher education.

Back at ASU, President Crow stressed resources are available. “Sit down with our advisors and work your way through this because there is no child from any family at any income level that can’t go,” he said. “If you try hard to get scholarships, you can, but it’s definitely a challenge,” Chynoweth said.

The costs above are for in-state students. Those from other states and international students will pay a lot more. Here’s a look at the debt these students graduate with at public four-year institutions: University of Arizona, Arizona State University Tempe campus, and Northern Arizona University:

NameAverage Debt Of Graduates (2019-20)Percent Of Graduates With Debt (2019-20)Average Private Debt Of Graduates (2019-20)Percent Of Graduates With Private Debt (2019-20)
University of Arizona$25,62044%$34,7028%
Arizona State University-Tempe$24,48845%$36,2347%
Northern Arizona University$22,58755%$23,2637%