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Universities Asking Arizona For Funding For Workforce Initiative, Scholarship Program

Published: Monday, May 24, 2021 - 3:44pm
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Arizona’s three public universities are waiting to see how much funding the state will give them in its final budget for next fiscal year. This year, the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees Arizona State University, Northern Arizona and University of Arizona, has asked the state to allocate the universities $100 million to support their New Economy Initiative. 

The initiative is an effort to support the state’s workforce needs by producing more graduates from high-demand fields such as engineering and health care, said ABOR Executive Director John Arnold. So far, he’s seen proposals to give the universities between $65 to $70 million in on-time and on-going funding. 

“The Legislature and the governor are interested in these types of proposals and it appears that thankfully we are going to see some investment in these areas," Arnold said. 

ABOR has also asked the state for funding to create a scholarship program for certain low-income students.

Current predictions show less than 19% of Arizona ninth graders will have a bachelor’s degree by 2029, according to ABOR. In an effort to combat this, the board is asking the state for $50 million to create the Arizona Promise Program that will pay for tuition and fee costs for qualifying low-income students. So far, the state has proposed allocating between $7 million to $10 million for the program, Arnold said. 

“It’s a start and that’s what we are really, really excited about so we can start marketing it and so that students can have some confidence that if they do their part and do the academic work in high school that finances will not be a barrier for them," he said. 

More than half of states already have some kind of promise program, according to the Campaign for Free College Tuition nonprofit. States with those programs have seen an increase in high graduation, college enrollment and college completion rates, Arnold said. 

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