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Gov. Hobbs asks to use a new algorithm to determine student-focused school funding

Gov. Hobbs has requested the Arizona Board of Regents and Arizona's state universities to create a funding formula that could mean more university funding


Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs is asking ABOR and to create a new funding formula with the focus on students.

Gov. Katie Hobbs addressed the Arizona Board of Regents and representatives of Arizona’s public universities and asked for them to come up with options for a student-focused funding formula on Sept. 29.

Public universities like ASU are currently not allocated funding from the legislature through a funding formula. Instead, each university submits a budget request to the legislature, and it is left to the legislature and governor to decide how much money they will set aside. 

READ MORE: Arizona Board of Regents approves ASU's over $3 billion FY 2022 budget

Funding formulas, like the one used for Arizona’s public schools, can be based on a variety of factors such as student population and student assessment scores. These funding formulas guarantee a set amount of funding per student, instead of being dependent on the legislature for approval. 

The implementation of a funding formula could mean more funding for the University, stopping the tuition increases that students who already grapple with financial issues struggle to pay. 

"We are hoping the state will support Arizona families and students," said ABOR Chair Fred DuVal in a press release. "We are making a clear and simple offer to the Legislature: if the legislature commits to a sufficient level of committed multi-year funding, we will cap tuition."

READ MORE: Students Respond to Proposed ASU Tuition Increase at ABOR Meeting

Kimberly Hurtado, a junior studying community health and worker at the Student Success Center on the Downtown Phoenix campus, said she regularly comes across students in need of more financial support when it comes to tuition. 

"I would say you see about three to four students coming in to see the dean about financial situations," Hurtado said. "It would help if we didn’t have to raise tuition every year." 

Efren Pantaleon, a junior studying justice studies and social work and also a worker at the Downtown Phoenix Student Success Center, said he has seen first-hand the difficulty of navigating the financial aid system and the way a tough financial situation can grow in complexity. 

"My experience with financial aid hasn't been the best," Pantaleon said. "It's sort of hard to maneuver that system when considering that they put limitations on the financial aid that I have (already) received."

For students with varying family situations, the financial aid process can require more information when filling out forms. Alexandra Winder, a senior studying public service and public policy, said her family circumstances have further complicated the financial aid process and made communication more difficult.

"The process of applying, especially with divorced parents, is kind of a pain," Winder said. "Getting all their information and always talking over the phone, there always ends up being some issue with money."

The idea of capped tuition with the student-focused funding formula is that freed up money would allow more resources to be accessible for students to spend in other educational areas.

"I feel like I could use that money towards books and parking passes," Hurtado said when talking about her own situation. "For community health, we apply for the nursing program and go to clinicals, you kind of need a car to survive."

A student-focused funding formula would provide more consistent and dependable funding that wouldn't be controlled by the state legislature. Hobbs brought forward the potential funding formula after ASU's free-speech controversy at the "Health, Wealth & Happiness" event earlier this year brought the University under the scrutiny of the state Legislature. 

READ MORE: Joint state legislative committee gives University 60 days to investigate Prager event and T.W. Lewis Center

"I feel like (capping tuition increases) would generally impact all university students that are on some form of scholarship," Pantaleon said. "Whether it be in federal Pell Grants or through the University – I feel like it would for sure just help a majority of ASU students."

Edited by Alysa Horton, Sadie Buggle and Caera Learmonth.

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