Higher education provides substantial benefits to individuals and to society. Not only does higher education bring greater earning potential for students, but higher-educated workers typically pay more taxes which benefits the U.S. economy. A recent report from College Success Arizona notes that each Arizona college graduate is expected to contribute over $650,000 to the economy. However, paying for college can be one of the biggest challenges in earning a degree.
The Arizona Board of Regents’ new university funding model will address this challenge. Students and their success are placed squarely at the center of ABOR’s new strategic plan.
This plan represents a dynamic shift by defining state education investment in terms of Arizona resident students. Its adoption will end the era of funding educational institutions by refocusing education investment on students.
ABOR’s strategic plan also envisions universities staking out a stronger role in K-12 education as a complement to Gov. Doug Ducey’s efforts to improve education outcomes among K-12 students. The proposed funding model would promote further alignment between the K-12 and higher education systems and inspire young students by dedicating funding to their ability to qualify for a university education.
I applaud Gov. Ducey for recognizing the positive elements of this new funding model and for making a budget recommendation of $8 million towards this goal. The governor’s leadership on this issue sends a strong message to the business community, locally and across the nation, that all levels of Arizona’s educational system are important to his administration.
The future of Arizona depends on a qualified, educated workforce. Businesses looking to expand operations or relocate to Arizona consider our educational system and workforce availability as key indicators of the strength or weakness of our economy prior to making those decisions.
ABOR’s plan represents a significant shift of intention and action to reposition Arizona’s outstanding public higher education system for long-term viability. It will become one of the most meaningful ways by which we can assure opportunity for all in Arizona.
ABOR’s new university funding model provides a solid strategy for the long-term success of our public universities and the Arizona residents they serve. And investing in our public universities will certainly go a long way towards increasing economic vitality for our state and personal success for its citizens.