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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Assuring students of their future

History sophomore Monique Perez says she would not have been able to afford college were it not for the Arizona Assurance Scholars Program.

“Arizona Assurance made it possible to for me to attend college financially,” Perez said. “It also allowed me to be here as a freshman as opposed to transferring later on in my schooling.”

Former UA President Robert Shelton started the Arizona Assurance Scholars Program in fall 2008. The program provides financial assistance to Arizona residents with a 3.0 or higher, who are enrolling full-time to the UA immediately after high school.

Students must be claimed as dependents, have filled out a Federal Application For Student Aid and be elligible for a Pell Grant.

The program covers tuition, room and board and books and for all four years of college with a large portion of the funding provided by Pell Grants.

This semester, Arizona Assurance welcomed 510 students into the program. This pushed the total enrollment of Arizona Assurance Scholars to more than 2,000 across all cohorts.

The program is gearing up to graduate its first class in May 2012. It is estimated that 60 percent of the freshman class that started in 2008 in Arizona Assurance will graduate by the end of the school year, according to an overview from Arizona Assurance. This is a significant increase from the average 34 percent of UA students who graduate in four years, according to the overview.

“We are just excited and proud of the program,” said Arezu Corella, assistant director of Academic Success and Achievement and a member of Student Transitions for the UA.

To prepare for the first graduating class of the Arizona Assurance Scholars program, team members from Student Transitions will be offering workshops throughout the year to show their students what they can do after they have received their undergraduate degrees, whether it is applying to graduate school or getting ready to start a career.

“We want to make sure they are equipped to deal with anything they want to do after college,” said Rebecca Covarrubias, a graduate assistant for Arizona Assurance. “Finding their own path is important.”

With the addition of new students also comes the addition of new staff members to the Arizona Assurance program. What was once a three-person staff has recently increased to 12.

“I think the program has done a lot better than it has in the past because of the addition,” Covarrubias said. “So there is a lot more students in the program but there is also a lot more structure.”

Edith Auslander, an Arizona Assurance consultant and member of the University of Arizona Foundation said $1 million a year, provided by federal aid, grants, scholarships and donations, is needed to fund the program for each class. Arizona Assurance and the University of Arizona Foundation are working on fundraising a $100 million endowment for the program.

“We hope to keep this program going forever,” Auslander said. “It’s going to take some time but we will get there.”

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