Beginning in fall 2023, Northern Arizona University will provide tuition-free education for every first-year and transfer Arizona student with a household income of $65,000 or less, the university announced.
The income threshold is based on the median household income in Arizona and would impact about 50% of Arizona households. The tuition will be covered by a combination of financial aid and scholarships, the university said.
The action is part of NAU’s Access2Excellence initiative which was created to broaden higher education access and increase attainment of postsecondary degrees. The university said it wants to increase economic and social mobility in Arizona, which despite being a flourishing and fastest-growing state has among the lowest rates of educational attainment.
The tuition-free benefit will apply to students attending the university’s main campus in Flagstaff or any one of its over 20 statewide campuses.
“Affordability of college is top of mind for many, and this program ensures that tuition is not a barrier,” said José Luis Cruz Rivera, president of NAU, in a statement. “It’s the embodiment of our university’s commitment to excellence and delivering equitable postsecondary value to all our students, NAU’s high-quality academic programs and exceptional services support students in achieving transformative post-college outcomes.”
The initiative is in addition to another program that helps eliminate barriers for high achieving Arizona high school students. In March, NAU piloted a program that guarantees admission to qualified Arizona high school students who meet high school graduation requirements with a 3.0 GPA.
“The Access2Excellence Initiative underscores NAU’s commitment to eliminate obstacles that undermine the college-going aspirations of students from diverse economic, social and cultural backgrounds,” said Lyndel Manson, chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, in a statement. “I’m thrilled that NAU is taking the lead in showing Arizona students and families that college is attainable and affordable — and that college is a real option for them.”
Register for the Council’s upcoming Phoenix and Tucson tech events and Optics Valley optics + photonics events.