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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Mailbag: Aug. 26

‘No such thing as free college’ missed mark

The guest column written by the blog, the Desert Lamp, and published by Daily Wildcat, “”No such thing as free college,”” missed the mark with regards to what has actually been happening with the AIMS Scholarship. This summer, the universities developed proposals to begin to phase out and eventually eliminate the AIMS scholarship within the next couple of years. Without the Arizona Students’ Association mobilizing students during the summer months and drafting a response, those changes that would have resulted in the eventual termination of the AIMS scholarship would have already been put into effect. As the statewide student-directed and student-funded advocacy organization that works to increase access and affordability to higher education, we fight to protect financial aid and to ensure that promises made to provide financial aid are kept. Since ASA was created in 1974, we have fought for all forms of financial assistance to help students afford college, including creating the only form of state-funded, need-based aid with the Arizona Financial Aid Trust.  

This summer, the threats to the AIMS scholarship would have meant that the promise made by universities to qualified students would have been broken. The students receiving the AIMS scholarship are qualified, with either a 3.5 GPA or are in their top five percent of their high school class, have exceeded standards on all three parts of the AIMS test, and have taken the ACT or SAT as part of the admissions process for the universities. In research from the universities, the students that receive this scholarship are succeeding in college and they have higher retention rates than other students. These are not “”high-grade mediocrity”” students as the Desert Lamp explicitly characterizes. ASA felt that it was important to protect this program for students that have already been promised this scholarship and if changes are sought to be made to the program, we hold the belief that they must be done with due diligence by the universities and in collaboration with stakeholders.  

 

The Arizona Students’ Association’s plan called for the following:

• Protecting students that have already passed the AIMS test and  planned on receiving this scholarship.

• Keeping the costs savings in financial aid if the program is eliminated.

• Getting data to show the type of financial need that students have by having recipients fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

 

The response that ASA drafted and advocated caused the Regents to table the proposal and have since gone back and made amendments including: lessening the impact to high school seniors and juniors, exploring other funding options, and making a commitment to keep the remaining funds in financial aid.  

ASA will continue to empower students on issues that they care about and will continue working to make higher education more accessible and affordable.  To read ASA’s original proposal and the amended proposal from the Board of Regents, go toazstudents.org. To tell your AIMS scholarship story, please email robyn@azstudents.org.  

 

Elma Delic

Chair, Arizona Students’ Association

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