Letter to the editor: Higher education goals must not be abandoned
While COVID-19 has created disruption, pain and uncertainty throughout our great state, one thing remains clear: Our students’ progress toward their educational goals must continue.
As the presidents of Arizona’s top-tier public universities, we are committed to making our universities accessible and to help families support their students in their efforts to achieve a university education. We are particularly concerned that students who are in rural areas are not applying to college at the rate of their urban counterparts, and we are united in our objective of addressing this trend.
Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona are uniquely positioned to serve students in rural areas of Arizona. We offer many options to students pursuing their educational goals. They can study from home, from our main campuses, or from satellite campuses all around the state.
We are here to help students reach their goals with programs tailored to their needs, and with support such as targeted financial aid and personalized assistance from the time they apply through graduation. Our state universities are the home of thousands of rural in-state students.
The skills, culture, traditions and values our rural students bring with them are attributes that strengthen our universities as we work together to take our state and all of its people to a more secure economic future.
With the uncertainty of an economy damaged by the pandemic, earning a college degree is now more important than ever. Earnings for college graduates in Arizona are 68 percent higher than those who only have a high school diploma, according to a study issued by the Fordham Institute. During the pandemic, college graduates have experienced better job security than those who are not.
We remain committed to affordable in-state tuition and offer tuition-free programs to qualified students. College is more affordable than some might think. In 2018, there was about $69 million in unclaimed Pell Grants in Arizona.
All three of our universities have committed to helping rural students and their families on this journey. Despite our present challenges, the future is unlimited. Whether they want to study agribusiness or business, mechanical engineering or space sciences, medicine or music, we encourage your students to begin that journey with us, no matter where you live in our great state.
Financial aid and fall 2021 enrollment information for all three of our institutions is available at arizonauniversities.info. We look forward to the future, for all of our students – and for all of the future Lumberjacks, Sun Devils and Wildcats in your communities.
Michael M. Crow
Robert C. Robbins