Funding troubles puts question mark on Lake Havasu campus

ASU is having trouble getting funding for a new campus in Lake Havasu City.

The campus is part of the Colleges@ASU program, a component of the University’s 2020 vision plan to launch lower-priced undergraduate colleges in municipalities around Arizona.

ASU signed a Memorandum of Understanding — an agreement between two parties that is not as legally binding as a formal contract — with Lake Havasu City in March.

ASU officials have until Dec. 31 to determine whether the Lake Havasu City campus is “financially and programmatically feasible,” University planner and senior vice president Rich Stanley said in an e-mail.

The December deadline is an extension of an original agreement established in March that allowed the University 45 days to perform a feasibility study.

ASU officials surveyed high school students, community college students and local residents in the Lake Havasu City area.

Of the 211 students surveyed from Mohave Community College, 77 percent said they would “likely” attend the local ASU campus. Fifty-four percent of Lake Havasu High School students surveyed said they would “likely” attend the campus for a bachelor’s degree.

The local school district in Lake Havasu City has provided a former junior high school that could work as a future ASU campus.

"It is a former middle school, but it is unlike what you would envision of a middle school," Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen said.

He said the school’s campus is made up of seven buildings and multiple classrooms.

David Young, the senior vice president for academic affairs, said in an e-mail that the facility will work with some minor renovations and modifications.

The funding for these renovations will most likely be paid for by Lake Havasu City through economic development and philanthropic sources, Stanley said.

However, Stanley said launching a Lake Havasu City campus would require additional state funding, and with the financial constraints Arizona is currently under, it’s unlikely ASU will receive any state funding.

Stanley said that in one sense ASU has made headway in the planning of the Lake Havasu campus, however, funding is an issue that is going to have to be solved in order to launch the campus.

Although there isn't a solution to the problem yet, ASU has been floating a few ideas around.

Stanley said philanthropy has been considered along with higher tuition, but the latter is an alternative that ASU officials do not want to take.

Given Lake Havasu City's proximity to California, it has the potential to draw students from California who pay out-of-state tuition, which could also help increase funding for the Lake Havasu City campus.

The size of the school is still under debate, however like the other planned Colleges@ASU, it would be small in relation to the Tempe campus, and would offer basic undergraduate degrees such as business and education at lower tuition levels.

"The goal is to try to get the tuition set at the level of what a Pell Grant would be," Stanley said.

Although nothing is set in stone, the Lake Havasu City campus would most likely not offer any research and would instead focus on providing basic degrees, Stanley said.

According to Mayor Nexton, the current facility could hold 1,200 to 1,500 students.

The school would hope to attract students who already live in the Lake Havasu area, as well as students who want a more rural school setting.

If no decision is made on whether or not to build the Lake Havasu City campus by the December deadline, it will likely be extended, David Young said in an e-mail.

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