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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Assurance to fund 500 in fall

    Five-hundred. $42,000.

    These are now the key numbers for Arizona Assurance, a program to debut this fall that will pay for the full cost of students’ tuition, fees, housing and books provided their household reaps no more than a set annual income.

    Five-hundred students will receive these benefits over four years, up from the 400 that university officials anticipated when the program was announced in November.

    Students from households making $42,000 or less each year were automatically considered for Arizona Assurance when they completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid for next year.

    Everyone who applied for program for this fall received the funding, said Paul Allvin, UA associate vice president of communications.

    “”The goal is to get more Arizona students to graduate debt-free,”” he said.

    Arizona Assurance will be funded with existing financial aid resources reallocated to make them more effective, he said.

    President Robert Shelton said he was interested in forming an additional aid program since he began his term nearly two years ago, but wanted to make sure such a program was put together carefully and would address the needs of UA students.

    “”As of this spring, I was convinced we had the right, strong program and ways to fund it,”” he said. “”It was necessary to craft the right program before proceeding.””

    The university is looking for new avenues of funding to keep the program alive beyond the first year and keep meeting the demands of applicants, he said.

    Private donors will likely be a main source, Shelton said.

    “”The community will have to help us so that we continue to guarantee funding for every eligible student that meets the requirements,”” Allvin said. Students who qualify for Arizona Assurance must maintain a 2.0 grade-point average and full-time student status. They are also required to work 10 to 15 hours a week in a Federal Work-Study job.

    They are also granted access to the program’s academic advising and mentoring component, which helps ensure students meet the four-year graduation timeline.

    “”All students should be caring about is their classes and school life, not the financial burden,”” Allvin said.

    Arizona Assurance provides more aid for students than the standard FAFSA Pell Grant because the median household income is set higher.

    The median household income in Arizona is about $44,000, according to U.S. Census statistics. About 1 million Arizona families make less than $42,000 annually and in Tucson, the median income in 2005 was $34,241.

    “”This program delves further into the middle class than any other amongst Arizona universities,”” Allvin said.

    About 50 to 60 universities nationwide have programs that assure funding to students who meet similar criteria, including the ASU Advantage program at Arizona State University.

    That program provides to students with total family income of $25,000 or less each year.

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