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State budget addresses per-student funding disparity at Ariz. state universities


May 02, 2012

The Arizona Legislature has approved a state budget that includes a plan to address the per-student funding disparity at Arizona’s three state universities.

The budget bills now go to Gov. Jan Brewer, who is expected to approve. The guiding philosophy of the plan is that every student attending one of the three state universities should be supported with a base-level state appropriation at the same dollar figure.

It is unprecedented in the past 40 years of Arizona history that all three university presidents, the Arizona Board of Regents, the students, the legislature and the governor have come together and agreed upon a plan to address parity in student funding that has plagued the state for years.

“Arizona State University thanks Governor Jan Brewer and the legislature for supporting the needs of our students in next year’s budget,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “This additional funding is greatly needed and will help us to continue to provide our students with an excellent education and enable us to serve the community and the state at the high level we have in the past.”

Last year ASU received nearly $900 less in state funding per student than the University of Arizona, while Northern Arizona University received nearly $760 less per student than UA. These disparities were caused by explosive enrollment growth in the last decade at both ASU and NAU, for which state dollars were not increased significantly. In fiscal 2012, UA got $6,598 per full-time student in state funding, ASU got $5,702 and NAU got $5,840.

The plan is to phase in additional funding over several years, beginning in fiscal year 2013, to help ASU and NAU catch up with UA on a per-student funding basis. 

The state legislature approved $15.3 million in parity funding for fiscal 2013, with the rest to be phased in over four years. The change could eventually bring nearly $60 million more annually to ASU and $16.5 million more to NAU. UA would not lose or gain any funding under the proposal.

In the last decade ASU has developed into a major research university, ranking among the top 100 research institutions in the world. Enrollment and research growth drove changes in ASU’s cost structure, which now approximates that of UA.