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NAU plans to make tuition free for many Arizona students

Published: Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 3:37pm
Updated: Friday, April 29, 2022 - 7:35am
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A2E (English - Dr. Cruz Rivera) from Northern Arizona University on Vimeo.

Northern Arizona University plans to offer free tuition to Arizona students who come from households with incomes below $65,000 per year. About half of Arizona families would qualify. 

NAU announced the new Access2Excellence initiative Thursday. President Jose Luis Cruz Rivera called the plan an investment in the future of Arizona. 

"We're fortunate to live in a state whose economy is booming," Cruz Rivera told KJZZ News. But, he added, many new jobs in the state require a degree and just a fraction of Arizona high schoolers go on to college right now. “NAU decided to step into this space and ensure that all Arizonans, regardless of their background, have a shot to contribute to and benefit from the state’s economy."

Cruz Rivera said the university will cover tuition costs by changing the way it budgets its existing financial aid funds and taking into account future funding projections.

"NAU manages approximately $400 million in federal, state, philanthropic and institutional aid every year," Cruz Rivera said. “We made some calculations that allowed us to confidently state that we could meet, through financial aid and scholarship awards, the full tuition costs for all Arizonan students with family incomes below $65,000.”

Students will still need to meet admissions requirements to be accepted to the university and they will have to cover housing and other fees. But Cruz Rivera said he wanted lower-income Arizona students to be able to apply to NAU with the confidence that they'll be able to afford to attend. 

Financial aid will still be available to students above the $65,000 threshold. 

The free tuition program is set to launch in fall of 2023.