Arizona college student group launches tuition ballot initiative

Oct 6, 2021, 4:00 PM
(University Photos)...
(University Photos)
(University Photos)

PHOENIX — An Arizona college student group announced Tuesday the launch of a grassroots campaign to put an initiative on the 2022 ballot seeking to lower the cost for undergraduate resident students to attend the state’s public universities.

The Arizona Students’ Association in press conferences at Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University unveiled “The As Nearly Free As Possible Act,” which would require the state to pay at least 50% of the actual cost of tuition and fees for undergraduate resident students attending the state’s three public universities.

The act would also lock in tuition rates for all undergraduate students at Arizona public universities for four consecutive years following the student’s initial enrollment and require any boost in tuition and fees to be limited to increases in the prior year’s cost of living increase.

If the state does not pay at least 50% of the cost of tuition and fees, the act would mandate a two percentage point surcharge be added to Arizona’s corporate income tax, according to a press release.

The group is basing the student-led grassroots movement on a section in the Arizona Constitution which states university instruction and all other state educational institutions shall “be as nearly free as possible.”

In order to qualify for the 2022 ballot, the campaign must collect more than 287,000 signatures by July 7, 2022.

The average undergraduate base tuition and mandatory fees in 2020-21 for a new resident student at the state’s three public universities was $11,968, according to the Arizona Board of Regents, up from $8,010 in 2010-11.

“Now more than ever, Arizona students are being priced out of a higher education,” Shayna Stevens, campaign manager for As Nearly Free As Possible, said in the release. “As a nation, we are dealing with the largest decline in college enrollment in a decade.

“In fear of crippling student loan debt, students are deciding not to go to college due to high tuition rates & fees.”

Base tuition and mandatory fees at the state’s universities have not increased since 2019-20, including hikes being frozen again for the 2021-22 school year, but the group says students saw no reduction when essentially paying for services they never received while adapting to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID has impacted families and students across the state and educating students in Arizona will only make students more innovative when needed most, let’s work smarter not harder,” Cesar Aguilar, executive director of Arizona Students’ Association, said in the release.

“Arizona’s economy is growing rapidly and by investing in Arizona’s students we will be able to fill the skilled labor job market.”

Nationwide including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, Arizona ranks No. 24 with an average borrower debt of $35,454, according to

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)...

Mesa police fatally shoot man who allegedly drove into patrol vehicle

Police shot and killed a man who allegedly drove into a patrol vehicle outside a Mesa convenience store early Wednesday.
11 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks about manufacturing jobs and the economy at SK Siltron CSS, a computer c...

President Joe Biden schedules visit to Phoenix for next week

President Joe Biden will visit a Phoenix microchip plant next week to tout his economic plan, the White House announced Wednesday.
11 hours ago
(Twitter File Photo/@PhoenixPolice)...

Phoenix police fatally shoot robbery suspect after car chase

Police in Phoenix said they fatally shot an armed robbery suspect after a car chase late Tuesday night.
11 hours ago
(AP Photo/Matt York, File)...
SuElen Rivera

Former Arizona AG says not certifying an election is a criminal violation

Former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard on Tuesday said there are criminal consequences for those who neglect to certify an election.
11 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Mici Italian)...

Mici Italian restaurant to open second Valley location in Queen Creek

Colorado-based restaurant Mici Italian is preparing to open its second Valley location in Queen Creek sometime during the winter. 
11 hours ago
(Photo by Jeff Topping/Getty Images)...

Palo Verde nuclear power plant west of Phoenix to test emergency sirens

Emergency sirens designed to alert nearby residents of a problem at the nuclear power plant far west of downtown Phoenix will be tested Wednesday, officials said.
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Arizona college student group launches tuition ballot initiative