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ASU community reacts to merit-aid award reductions for future students, tuition increase

Certain ASU-based merit-aid award amounts were reduced between $500 to $2,000 for future students

"Crow's confirmation on the merit-aid scholarship amount decreases occurred almost three weeks before the Arizona Board of Regents approved tuition to increase in the fall."

At a student forum on March 21, ASU President Michael Crow confirmed the reduction of multiple University merit-aid scholarship amounts and said the change is to avoid "students from very wealthy families" receiving large amounts of merit-aid and to expand on need-based aid.

Crow's confirmation on the merit-aid scholarship amount decreases occurred almost three weeks before the Arizona Board of Regents approved tuition to increase in the fall.

"We certainly don't want to make it difficult for those high-achieving students to be able to come here," Executive Vice President and University Provost Nancy Gonzales said at the student forum.

However, in an email to The State Press on March 22, Matthew Lopez, associate vice president of academic enterprise enrollment and executive director of admission services, gave another reason for the merit-aid award amount reduction.

"The pandemic and the resulting disruption to students having access to the ACT and/or SATs resulted in a complete rewrite of the selection criteria for first-year merit-awards—one significant change resulted in test scores no longer being required to be considered for a merit-award. This change has resulted in more students receiving merit-awards from ASU," Lopez said in the email.

The merit-aid award amount reductions will only affect future students at ASU, Lopez said in the email.

The New American University (NAMU) merit scholarships for residents and nonresidents that were adjusted decreased between $500 and $2,000.

The NAMU President's Award for residential students, which is the maximum NAMU award for in-state students, will be reduced from $10,000 to $8,000.

The NAMU Provost Distinction Award and the Dean Distinction Award for non-residential students will be removed. The awards, respectively, were $13,500 and $11,500. Now, non-residential students who would've qualified for those awards will instead receive the NAMU Provost's Award and the Dean's Award which are respectively $12,000 and $10,000. 

The NAMU Academic Achievement Award, which is only offered to non-residential students and was previously $7,500, is now $7,000.

The NAMU University Award for non-residential students was reduced from $9,000 to $8,500.

The University also removed its NAMU National Scholar award for non-residential students; instead, these students can receive the NAMU award they are eligible for, Lopez said in the email. Only Arizona residential National Merit Finalists can qualify for the award at ASU, and its amount was not adjusted.

No other University-based merit-aid awards were removed or affected by the change.

Natalie Reed will be a freshman at ASU in fall 2022, studying biological sciences. She was awarded the NAMU President's Award as a residential student which was previously $10,000 and is now $8,000.

Reed said she, her classmates and friends worked hard to maintain good academic performance to achieve ASU's highest merit-aid award for in-state students, the President's Award, assuming they would be getting $10,000 a year for their efforts.

"When it was lowered, it meant in total we would be getting $8,000 less over four years," Natalie said.

Although Natalie has already declared to attend ASU, she said the merit-aid award amount reduction made her hesitant to attend the University. 

"With the costs of living and attending ASU, it can feel less like the University has the students' best interests at heart," Natalie said. "It makes it harder to trust their decisions with tuition and cost."

Crow announced an increased tuition and fee proposal on March 7. On April 7, the Arizona Board of Regents passed the tuition increase for in-state, out-of-state and international students at ASU, UA and NAU for the 2022-2023 school year.

In-state students will see a 2.5% increase in tuition, 4% for out-of-state students, and 5% for international students.

For prospective or incoming students who are still forming their impressions of ASU, the tuition increase "definitely impacts the look of the school for them," Natalie said.

Alberto Plantillas is a junior majoring in politics and the economy. Plantillas is also a fellow for the Arizona Students' Association, an organization that proposed a ballot measure last semester to reduce tuition at Arizona's three public universities.

"It's (the tuition increase) going to kick out low-income out-of-state students, and it's going to dis-incentivize low-income in-state students," Plantillas said.

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Jasmine KabiriAssignment Editor

Jasmine Kabiri is the assignment editor at The State Press, overseeing and editing stories produced by the six digital desks. She has previously worked as a reporter at The Daily Camera and Cronkite News.

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