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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ABOR discusses 4 financial-aid models

    The Arizona Board of Regents reviewed several financial aid models in its meeting at Northern Arizona University today, although no decisions were made pending a deeper investigation.

    Given four models that address the need for various expansions within need-based and merit-based financial aid, the regents expressed different opinions on each one.

    Each of the models addressed the need for aid from different viewpoints.

    The fourth model, a two-tiered model that would provide both need- and merit-based aid, was a favorite of UA President Robert Shelton.

    “”If you think of how the demographics are changing, other parts of the country aren’t going to stand still and let talent flow,”” he said, in regard to the importance of merit-based financial aid. “”They will come after our students – they being the Northeast and the Midwest. Just as it’s essential to have robust need-based aid, we also have to have robust merit-based aid to keep the talent in Arizona.””

    With model four, the amount of funding required to fulfill 100 percent of the unmet needs would be $260 million.

    An estimated 31,000 students had unmet financial needs of $260 million in the 2005-2006 fiscal year, according to the ABOR agenda.

    Model one called for a new grant program providing financial aid for qualifying resident students. Both undergraduates and graduate students would be eligible, although undergraduates would receive priority, according to the ABOR agenda. Model one would cost approximately $126.5 million.

    Regent Gary Stuart expressed confusion at the models without a confirmed number for federal and state aid that will be given to Arizona universities within the next year.

    “”I, for one, don’t have the foggiest idea of which model will operate perfectly,”” Stuart said. “”In model one, they would have to prove financial need, but ‘financial need’ means different things to different people.””

    Model two would provide an expansion and fusion of Arizona Financial Aid Trust funds with state funds. All new monies collected in this way would be used for immediate aid, rather than placing 25 percent in a permanent endowment, which is currently required by statute, according to the ABOR agenda. The cost to implement this model and meet 100 percent of the need is $260 million.

    Model three presented the issue of financial aid in a new light, addressing the need to have early intervention to encourage students to attend higher education, by having them sign the “”Arizona Pledge.””

    Under this model, students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches must sign a pledge when they sign up for the program, saying that they will graduate from high school, not use illegal substances or alcohol, and will not be convicted of any misdemeanor or felony.

    If they fulfill the requirements of the pledge, students can receive both the Arizona Need Based Financial Aid Grant and the Arizona Pledge grant. Funding for this model is approximately $146 million, with $126.5 million going toward the Arizona Need Based Financial Aid Grant and approximately $25 million to fulfill the Arizona Pledge Component, according to the ABOR agenda.

    Although no formal decisions were made, President Shelton reiterated the importance of finding the best possible financial aid model toward the end of the discussion,

    mentioning a model that worked well at his previous institution, the University of North Carolina.

    “”We have to send the right message to those students who can come to our university who are academically strong enough to come but aren’t thinking of it,”” he said. “”The message is, ‘If you come, we will take care of you financially.’ “”

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