Sometimes I just want to beat my head (or state Representative) against a wall when I read stuff like this…
From the Arizona Republic:
A bill that would require Arizona undergraduate students at the three state universities to contribute at least $2,000 toward the cost of their education narrowly passed out of the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills (the sponsor of the legislation) maintains “that giving away free university tuition in tough times is bad policy, and free tuition can have negative consequences such as contributing to high college-dropout rates”.
More from the article…
Testimony during Wednesday’s committee hearing kept returning to a common theme: How much should students pay toward their college education, and how much should taxpayers contribute?
Supporters of the bill believe students should have more “skin in the game.” Opponents believe students already pay a lot for their education, and tuition is only part of the expense of going to school.
And my favorite part (said with dripping sarcasm):
About 100 students signed in to oppose the bill, and a handful spoke out against it. James Allen, UA student-body president, told legislators that by passing the bill, legislators would make it harder to achieve a higher-education degree.
Rep. Michelle Ugenti, R-Scottsdale, replied, “Welcome to life.”
Welcome to life? Really?
What a … rude … statement.
The journalistic masterpiece in the Republic didn’t bother to mention any details about this $2,000 the Legislature expects college students to pay. Is that $2,000 per semester, year, or over the duration of a 4 year academic program?
So we have to go to the source — the actual bill — to determine that.
Turns out it is $2,000 per academic year, ie: $1000 per semester.
Graciously, the Legislature has include provisions to exempt students attending college on athletic scholarships and those who receive “a grant, award or scholarship that is based solely on academic merit or solely on a special aptitude, talent or ability from a competitive national program.” (limited to no more then 5% of first time undergraduate enrollees.)
So what this bill would seem to target is unathletic, less that brilliant students from mid – lower income families.
You know, exactly the sort of student that might just need a grant or scholarship in order to attend college. You know, all those kids applying for “need-based” grants and scholarships.
As the parent of a Senior in High School, one who is fortunate enough to be very bright and in the last graduating year eligible to receive a full tuition waiver AIMS scholarship, I can tell you from personal experience that the vast majority of grants and scholarships out there are need based.
Why, oh why does the Legislature feel they need to impose a $2000/year requirement on a student, one who very well might receive a full tuition scholarship / grant?
So students have, “more skin in the game”?
That may well be one of the most moronic statements I’ve ever heard.
So college dropout rates will be lower?
That may well be the second-most moronic statement I’ve ever heard.
Here is some more scary verbiage from HB 2675:
… each student who is a full-time student enrolled at a university under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Board of Regents in fiscal year 2012 – 2013 shall personally contribute at least two thousand dollars during the academic year for tuition. A student may not use any other source of public or private funding, including grants, gifts, scholarships, or tuition benefits or other types of funding administered by ot through a university or an affiliate of a university, to reduce or eliminate that student’s contribution under this program. (My emphasis in bold.)
Reading that literally, it sure sounds like a student can’t even accept a gift from a parent or relative to help cover this $2,000 a year “get some skin in the game” contribution.
Is a student loan considered “any other source of public or private funding”? I would think so.
So what the legislature is proposing is that students who aren’t getting an athletic or merit scholarship have to … write a check … for $2,000 per year. From their personal checking/savings accounts.
How many 18 year olds have eight grand sitting in their bank accounts?
The Arizona Legislature seems to be ignoring a little clause in the Arizona Constitution (that little document that I’m pretty sure they all raised their hands and swore to uphold).
You see, Article 11, Section 6 of Arizona’s constitution states, “The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible.”
OK, so debate has raged on for years about the incredibly lame wording of “nearly free”, but the Constitution is what it is, and while CLEARLY I am not an attorney, legislative representative or constitutional scholar, it would certainly seem that just winding up some new bill to whack need-based funding would hardly fall into the “nearly free” category.
What Arizona Universities Cost
Being the aforementioned parent of a student about to embark on a University education, I’ve looked into the cost of a college diploma…
From ASU’s website, here is a breakdown of estimated tuition and fees for my daughters planned program — The Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Barrett Honors College:
And here is a breakdown of the “Standard Cost of Attendance.” (The Honors College requires students to live on campus for two years, but for this chart, I used the ASU calculator based on the student living at home with their parents — the lowest cost option):
So you’re looking at about 75 grand for a four year run in an Arizona university, if the student lives at home all four years.
One might argue that a student paying $8,000 of that 75K isn’t asking for much.
If an aspiring student gets a full tuition waiver via grant or scholarship, that covers $36,832 of their $75,000 tab.
But who is paying for the other $38,168?
Doesn’t $38,000 qualify as having “skin in the game”? Yet some in the legislature wants students to “personally contribute” another $8,000. Is it really going to make a difference in “drop out rates” if the student pays $46,000 instead of $38,000? I’d love to see the data supporting this claim.
I don’t get it. The sponsors and supporters of this bill have lost their ever-loving minds.
Ironically, according to his bio, HB 2675 sponsor Representative Kavanagh is a professor of criminal justice at Scottsdale Community College and director of the college’s Administration of Justice Studies and Forensic Science Program.
Maybe his classes are too full and he wants to cut down enrollment by sticking low to middle income students with a bill for an extra eight grand. Or maybe he just wants his classes filled with jocks and bright kids.
Hat tip to my old friend, ASU student Alan Heuertz, for the link to the Republic article.