March 30, 2019

Arizona High School Graduates Tuition Rate Bill moving forward in Legislature

Students at Franklin Police and Fire High School

A  bill designed to offer a more affordable university tuition rate for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients passed a key Arizona Senate committee on March 26th.

HB2186 was amended in the committee to reflect the language of SB1217, sponsored by Senator Heather Carter. After passing the Senate 18-12, that bill had stalled in the House. This new effort signals that bipartisan support for the effort still exists.

If passed and signed into law by Governor Ducey, the bill will establish the Arizona Tuition Rate for any graduating Arizona high school student who meet certain requirements.

Some provisions include:

  • Requires ABOR and each district board to establish the Arizona tuition rate for an individual who applies for admission to an Arizona university or community college after graduating from an Arizona public, private, charter or home school.
  • Delegates to the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) and district boards the authority to prescribe tuition rates and requires ABOR and district boards to: a) verify that the individual’s high school diploma meets the outlined requirements; and b) treat all diplomas in the same manner.
  • Excludes postsecondary education from the definition of a state or local public benefit as prescribed.

As Senator Carter told KTAR news back in February, it’s critical to our economy that these students have access to higher education. “Many times (they) are choosing to not continue their education, because they can’t afford it or they’re taking a longer time to graduate,” she said.

She’s right. Many DACA students who have done everything right to successfully complete high school and want to continue on with higher education simply can’t afford higher tuition rates. This is also true for other students who graduated from an Arizona high school, moved away for a short time, and then returned. We shouldn’t be punishing any of these students for wanting to succeed and become productive members of Arizona’s growing economy.

The amendment to HB2186 aims to give these hard working students a shot at what every kid really wants – the pursuit of the American Dream. Hopefully, rhetoric and politics won’t get in the way of this huge step forward for educational equity in Arizona.