Regents Weigh In On Education’s Benefits to the Economy

In their 2011 Student Financial Aid Report, the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) highlights the affect of state budget cuts on university students in Arizona. The report tells us:

  • The number of students demonstrating financial need for higher education has increased by 88% in the last five years.
  • Less than 1% of the roughly one billion in financial aid is provided for by the state general fund with the lion’s share coming directly from the universities in the form of tuition waivers, employment, scholarships and other funds.
  • Arizona ranks 49th in the country when measuring the amount of state-funded financial aid provided to students.
  • The average debt of a student receiving  a bachelor’s degree from an Arizona university has risen to  nearly $22,000.
  • Total wages earned by college graduates in Arizona over the last 20 years was $11.1 billion dollars which translated into $778 million in taxes paid to the state general fund.
As the state makes it more difficult for students to earn their degrees by shifting the cost burden from state to student, Arizona is endangering an important source of tax revenue.
According to the East Valley Tribune, Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Huppenthal asserts that students who have a higher financial stake in their own education end up earning more money in the long run, regardless of the quality of the institution they attended.  This line of thinking from Arizona’s top public education official leads to two disturbing questions:
  • Has the state determined that the quality of our universities and colleges is of no consequence?
  • Has the state officially abandoned its constitutionally mandated duty to provide for the proper maintenance and improvement of public education institutions as called for by Article 11, Section 10 of the Arizona State Constitution? Or to keep public instruction “as nearly free as possible?” (Section 6)
Click here to read The East Valley Tribune’s full article: Regents: Higher education gives state good return on investment, December 3, 2o11.

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