Aid Officers Excited About Addition of Arizona Assurance
The University of Arizona's newly announced Arizona Assurance program, which offers a debt-free education to low-income students, isn't just good news for prospective freshmen. It's also good news for the University.
"People in financial aid are very excited about this," said John Nametz, director of student financial aid. "This is the neatest financial aid initiative we've seen in a long time."
The program offers highly individualized financial aid packages to low-income students, with the goal of helping them graduate in four years without ever having to take out a loan. Arizona Assurance combines federal aid and grant funds with money that students earn through a required federal work-study job. The program covers all the essential costs of attending the UA plus room and board.
"We believe the Arizona Assurance financial guarantee is a demonstration of the institution's commitment to expanding access to Arizona's highest quality undergraduate experience," said Scott Cason, director of marketing in the Office of Enrollment Management.
Approximately 600 freshmen will enter the UA in the fall with the support of Arizona Assurance packages.
"This sends a message to students that the UA is behind them," Nametz said. "Itâ€™s a combined community effort to help students succeed."
To qualify, students must be Arizona residents, earn admission to the UA and enroll as full-time students, and have a family income of $42,400 or less. Students also must be entering college directly from high school and be eligible for a Pell Grant, a federally funded, need-based award.
"I am thrilled to see the Arizona Assurance program come to fruition," UA President Robert N. Shelton said when the program was announced last week. "It is essential that qualified in-state students wishing to attend the University are not deterred by financial concerns. The Arizona Assurance is a tremendous step forward in growing the future work force Arizona needs to succeed in the 21st century."
The initiative was one of the two chief priorities that Shelton outlined in his first State of the University address, which he delivered in November. The other was the "UA Faculty Competitiveness Initiative" to help improve pay for full professors by distributing funds based on merit, market and equity.
While the primary goal of Arizona Assurance is to provide students with a debt-free college education, the Office of Student Financial Aid hopes the program will send another message, too.
"We want to make people understand how welcoming this University is," Nametz said. "We want students to know that they will have every chance to succeed here."