ASU President Michael Crow responds to tuition lawsuit


TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," ASU PRESIDENT MICHAEL CROW RESPONDS TO THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S LAWSUIT OVER TUITION COSTS. AND HOW BEST TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT WHAT CAN OFTEN BE FRIGHTENING CURRENT EVENTS. THOSE STORIES NEXT, ON "ARIZONA HORIZON."

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TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS. STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL MARK BRNOVICH HAS FILED A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE ARIZONA BOARD OF REGENTS OVER IN-STATE TUITION FOR DACA RECIPIENTS AND TUITION COSTS IN GENERAL. JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT ALL THIS IS THE PRESIDENT OF ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY, MICHAEL CROW. GOOD TO SEE YOU. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S LAWSUIT, YOUR THOUGHTS?

MICHAEL CROW: I THINK THE ATTORNEY GENERAL IS TRYING TO BRING UP AN IMPORTANT AREA OF PUBLIC POLICY. I DON'T KNOW IF A LAWSUIT IS THE RIGHT VEHICLE, BUT I UNDERSTAND HIS CONCERN. HIS CONCERN IS HAVE WE OR HAVEN'T WE LIVED UP TO THE CONSTITUTION OF ARIZONA, WHICH SAYS THE PUBLIC UNIVERSITIE,S WITH ASSISTANCE FROM THE STATE, WILL PROVIDE TUITION COSTS AS CLOSE TO FREE AS POSSIBLE FOR WHAT IS CALLED "INSTRUCTION." WE THINK WE HAVE DONE THAT BUT IT HASN’T BEEN EASY. THE PURPOSE OF THE LAWSUIT IS TO ASK THE QUESTION, WE BELIEVE WE HAVE THE ANSWER, AND THE ANSWER IS THAT THROUGH A WIDE RANGE OF MECHANISMS WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FIND A WAY TO ADVANCE THE ACTUAL COST OF ATTENDANCE TO ATTEND THE UNIVERSITY ON AVERAGE FOR A STUDENT IN ARIZONA IS AROUND $2,000 NET TUITION, THAT’S TUITION AFTER GRANTS, NOT LOANS, BUT AFTER GRANTS. WE THINK WE HAVE DONE THAT. WE UNDERSTAND WHY IT'S AN IMPORTANT PUBLIC POLICY QUESTION.

TED SIMONS: HE SAYS IN THE SUIT THAT THE INCREASES HAVE BEEN DRAMATIC AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

MICHAEL CROW: THE STATED INCREASES HAVE BEEN SIGNIFICANT OVER THE BASE, THE TUITION USED TO BE A COUPLE OF THOUSAND DOLLARS. NOW IT'S AROUND $10,000 AS THE STATED PRICE. THE WAY THAT WORKS, HOWEVER, IS THAT STUDENTS WITH HIGH ACADEMIC MERIT, STUDENTS WITH HIGH FINANCIAL NEED, ARE IN OUR NEW MODEL ABLE TO FIND A PATHWAY TO GET GRANTS TO ADVANCE THEIR TUITION, SO OUR NET TUITION IS LOWER THAN IT WAS IN THE 1980S.
TED SIMONS: WITH THAT IN MIND, AND I GUESS WE CAN TALK ABOUT THIS, HE SAYS IN THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC, RESPONDING TO CRITICISMS HE’S RECEIVING, HE SAYS YOU HAVE GONE FROM A LOW TUITION FINANCIAL AID MODEL TO MODERATE TUITION HIGH FINANCIAL AID MODEL WHICH HELPS THOSE WHO ARE LOWER INCOME FOLKS AND THE UPPER INCOME FOLKS, IT DOESN'T MATTER. THEY CAN AFFORD IT ANYWAY. HE SAYS IT'S THE MIDDLE CLASS KIDS AND FAMILIES HIT BY THIS. DOES HE HAVE A POINT?

MICHAEL CROW: CONCEPTUALLY, THERE’S A POINT THERE, BUT IN REALITY, NOT SO MUCH. HERE’S WHATS ACTUALLY GOING ON. ATTORNEY GENERAL BRNOVICH POINTED TO THE 1980S AS A PERIOD WHEN PERHAPS THIS SYSTEM WAS WORKING BETTER. I LOOKED AT 1985. WE HAD A FOUR-YEAR GRADUATION RATE OF AROUND 13 PERCENT. WE HADA VERY LOW, LESS THAN 50 PERCENT SIX YEAR GRADUATION RATE, WE HAD VERY FEW MINORITY STUDENTS, ALMOST NO STUDENTS FROM THE LOWER HALF OF FAMILY INCOMES IN 1985, ABOUT 2% OF THE STUDENT BODY. WE HAD AN INSTITUTION THAT WAS NOT OPERATING SUCCESSFULLY, WAS AT THE TIME, AND YOU WILL REMEMBER THIS, THE BUTT OF JOKES AROUND THE COUNTRY FOR NOT BEING A SERIOUS UNIVERSITY. THE REASON FOR THAT WAS WE DIDN'T HAVE RESOURCES FOR THE UNIVERSITY. TUITION WAS SO LOW THAT IT DIDN'T PROVIDE THE RESOURCES FOR THE UNIVERSITY TO BE SUCCESSFUL. AND TUITION WAS SO LOW WITHOUT FINANCIAL AID THAT MOST STUDENTS STILL COULDN’T PAY FOR IT. WHAT WE NEEDED WAS A NEW MODEL: MODEST TUITION, HIGH FINANCIAL AID. WE’VE LOOKED REALLY CAREFULLY AT THE MIDDLE CLASS. THOSE FAMILIES MAKING ABOVE 60 TO $80,000 MOVING UP INTO THE UPPER MIDDLE CLASS. WE HAVE A VERY SIGNIFICANTLY QUANTITATIVE UNDERSTANDING, THAT IS WE KNOW WHO’S PAYING, HOW THEY’RE DOING IT, AND SO FORTH. WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO, BECAUSE OF THE SCALE OF THE UNIVERSITY, BECAUSE WE HAVE OTHER REVENUE SOURCES, COMING IN FROM OTHER SOURCES, OTHER STUDENTS, DONATIONS ETC. WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO LOWER THE COST FOR STUDENTS ACROSS ALL SOCIOECONOMIC CLASSES.

TED SIMONS: AND YET HE SAYS THAT BECAUSE OF THAT MODEL, THE UNIVERSITIES, BOARD OF REGENTS, THEY ARE PICKING WINNERS AND LOSERS AS FAR AS TUITION.

MICHAEL CROW: I SAW THAT, I WASN’T REALLY SURE WHAT THAT MEANT. ABOUT 75% OF OUR IN-STATE STUDENTS GET FINANCIAL AID. THE FINANCIAL AID PACKAGES FOR GRANTS ARE VERY SIGNIFICANT. WE ARE EMPLOYING 12,000 STUDENTS OR MORE AT THE UNIVERSITY IN ADDITION TO GRANTS. WE THINK WE HAVE PUT TOGETHER AN INSTITUTION WHICH IS MORE ROBUST, HAS MORE RESOURCES, IS ABLE TO DO MORE THINGS. AND NOW WE’RE GRADUATING NOT 13 PERCENT OF THE STUDENTS IN FOUR YEARS, BUT 50 PERCENT IN FOUR YEARS. WE HAVE OVER HALF OR AROUND HALF OF OUR STUDENTS FROM THE LOWER HALF OF FAMILY INCOMES. IN 1985, WE HAD 225 STUDENTS OF HISPANIC ORIGIN IN THE FRESHMAN CLASS. WE NOW HAVE 3 THOUSAND STUDENTS OF HISPANIC ORIGIN IN THE FRESHMAN CLASS. WHAT I MEAN BY THIS, THE MODEL FOR THE UNIVERSITY AT THAT POINT WAS NOT A SUCCESSFUL MODEL. THE MODEL FOR THE UNIVERSITY NOW IS INCREASINGLY SUCCESSFUL ACROSS ALL INDICATORS. SO, TUITION IS ONE THING, COST IS ANOTHER THING. AND THE COST OF THE STUDENT IS ANOTHER THING. WE’VE KEPT THE COST OF THE STUDENT AND THE FAMILY AS LOW AS WE CAN WHILE ENHANCING THE QUALITY OF THE UNIVERSITY AT THE SAME TIME.
TED SIMONS: KEEPING THOSE COSTS LOW AS YOU CAN FOR A RESEARCH UNIVERSITY. AND THERE’S NO DENYING THAT ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY’S CONSTANTLY BEING RECOMMENDED FOR RESEARCH AND INNOVATION, THE WHOLE NINE YARDS. THERE ARE A LOT OF FOLKS IN ARIZONA WHO DON’T THINK THAT’S NECESSARILY A SWELL THING. THEY WANT A UNIVERSITY THAT INSTRUCTS AND ALLOWS FOUR YEAR DEGREES FOR MOST ARIZONA RESIDENTS.

MICHAEL CROW: WE HAVE DIFFERENT WAYS THAT WE DEAL WITH THIS. WE NOW ARE GRADUATING ABOUT THREE TIMES AS MANY STUDENTS THAT STARTED AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES THAN WE WERE BEFORE. WE HAVE OVER TEN THOUSAND TRANSFER STUDENTS FROM COMMUNITY COLLEGES NOW. THESE ARE FANTASTIC ENHANCEMENTS. NOW YOU CAN EASILY GO TO THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR TWO YEARS, WE HAVE OVER 150 DEGREE PROGRAMS WHERE YOU’RE AUTOMATICALLY ADMITTED FROM THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES INTO THE UNIVERSITY, 6, 7, OR 8 YEARS AGO WE HAD NONE OF THAT. WE’VE BUILT ALL OF THAT. SO NOW YOUR COST TO A BACHELOR’S DEGREE CAN BE HIGHLY REDUCED BY STARTING AT THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE AND EASILY COMING TO THE UNIVERSITY. THAT WASN’T ALWAYS THE CASE. WE ALSO HAVE LOWER COST DEGREE PROGRAMS ON THE WEST CAMPUS AND THE POLYTECHNIC CAMPUS. WE HAVE DEGREE PROGRAMS, BACHELOR’S DEGREE PROGRAMS IN THATCHER ARIZONA AND IN LAKE HAVASU ARIZONA THAT ARE PRICED AT LESS THAN $6,000 A YEAR. THEY ARE PRICED AT A PELL GRANT OR LOWER. WE HAVE ONLINE PROGRAMS AVAILABLE WITH FINANCIAL AID FOR ARIZONA RESIDENTS. WE HAVE LOTS OF AVENUES. NOT EVERY PROGRAM IS PRICED AT THE RESEARCH-GRADE LEVEL, NOT EVERY PATHWAY ASSUMES A RESEARCH-GRADE PRICE.

TED SIMONS: REAL QUICKLY, THE IDEA OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES THEMSELVES OFFERING FOUR-YEAR DEGREES. WE ARE HEARING A LOT OF THATIN RESPONSE TO THE LAWSUIT. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?

MICHAEL CROW: WE HAVE AN AGREEMENT NOW WITH THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES THAT WE'LL WORK WITH THEM ANY AREA THEY WANT TO WORK WITH IN TERMS OF A FOUR YEAR DEGREE. THEY’RE FREE TO ADVANCE IN DISCUSSIONS WE HAVE TOGETHER SO THAT WE HAVE NO MEANINGFULLY NEGATIVE DUPLICATION. SO WE ARE OPEN TO THAT. WE ARE WORKING WITH EASTERN ARIZONA COLLEGE NOW. WE ARE WORKING WITH OTHER COLLEGES IN TERMS OF ADVANCING THESE THINGS. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR LISTENERS, IS THAT WE HAVE MULTIPLE PATHWAYS, MULTIPLE WAYS TO PURSUE DEGREES, WE’VE LOWERED THE NET TUITION TO ARIZONA RESIDENTS AND WE HAVE ENHANCED THE QUALITY OF OUTCOMES. LET’S GO BACK TO THIS EARLIER WORLD ONE LAST TIME. IF YOU ARE ONLY GRADUATING 13 PERCENT OF YOUR STUDENTS IN FOUR YEARS AND LESS THAN 50 PERCENT IN SIX YEARS, IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE WHAT IT COSTS. IT'S NOT A SUCCESSFUL PLACE.

TED SIMONS: THE SUIT MENTIONS THAT THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BELIEVES THAT “AS NEARLY FREE AS POSSIBLE” IS NOT HAPPENING AND THAT THE BOARD OF REGENTS ARE CONFUSING “AS NEARLY FREE AS POSSIBLE” WITH “AFFORDABLE AND COMPARING TO PEER UNIVERSITIES” AND SUCH. AGAIN, DOES HE HAVE A POINT THERE?

MICHAEL CROW: WE DON’T SET OUR TUITION BASED ON ANY OTHER INSTITUTION, WE DON'T SET OUR COSTS BACED ON ANY OTHER INSTITUTION. WE HAVE AMONG THE LOWEST COSTS OF ANY OF THE PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES IN THE COUNTRY. WE HAVE AN EFFICIENT OPERATION. OUR TUITION IS SET BASED ON THE COST OF THE SCHOOL AT A REDUCED AMOUNT FOR AN IN-STATE STUDENT. WE KNOW WHAT AN OUT OF STATE STUDENT WILL PAY TO ATTEND THE UNIVERSITY. ABOUT $30,000. THAT SETS THE MARKET PRICE FOR THE SCHOOL. WE DON'T CHARGE THAT MARKET PRICE TO AN INSTATE STUDENT. WE CHARGE A THIRD OF IT TO AN INSTATE STUDENT AND FROM THAT POINT FORWARD WE HAVE ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL AID TAKING THE AVERAGE COST, CLOSE TO FREE AS POSSIBLE, DOWN TO A 15TH OF THE MARKET PRICE TO ATTEND ARIZONA STATE, $2,000, NET TUITION ON AVERAGE.

TED SIMONS: ARE THESE INCREASES AS THE SUIT DESCRIBES, LOCK-STEP BETWEEN THE THREE UNIVERSITIES?

MICHAEL CROW: NO, WE HAVE THREE DIFFERENT TUITION MODELS, WE HAVE THREE DIFFERENT ENTRY TUITIONS FOR NEW INCCOMING FRESHMAN. I SAID FIVE YEARS AGO THAT ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY TUITION FOR IN-STATE STUDENTS WOULDN'T BE RAISED MORE THAN 3% PER YEAR FOR TEN YEARS. IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS, THAT'S BEEN 1.7% ON AVERAGE. WE WILL NOT HAVE A LARGE TUITION REQUEST NEXT YEAR, THE YEAR AFTER OR THE YEAR AFTER. WE SAID WE WOULD NOT RAISE TUITION MORE THAN 3% FOR TEN CONSECUTIVE YEARS.

TED SIMONS: SO WHEN THE ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS THAT THERE ARE THESE LOCK-STEP INCREASES, THERE IS NO MEANINGFUL COMPETITION BETWEEN THESE MAJOR UNIVERSITIES BASED ON PRICE, YOU SAY?

MICHAEL CROW: I DON'T KNOW ABOUT COMPETITION BASED ON PRICE. WE HAVE TO RUN THE UNIVERSITY IN A FINANCIAL MODEL WHERE WE GRADUATE AS MANY STUDENTS AS POSSIBLE WITH THE HIGHEST-QUALITY DEGREE AS POSSIBLE. JUST TO LOOK AT THE TUITION DOESN'T LOOK AT QUALITY, DOESN’T LOOK AT OUTCOMES OR IMPACT OR VALUE OF THE DEGREES. WE ARE AT THE LOWEST POSSIBLE COST FOR TUITION THAT WE CAN BE AT AND DELIVER THE QUALITY OF PRODUCT THAT WE’RE ATTEMPTING TO DELIVER THAT HAS NEVER BEEN DELIVERED IN THE PAST.

TED SIMONS: ONE LAST POINT, AS NEARLY FREE AS POSSIBLE, TO YOU THAT MEANS --

MICHAEL CROW: THAT MEANS THEN, THAT A FAMILY, IF YOU COME FROM A FAMILY THAT IS WORKING POOR, YOU’LL HAVE FINANCIAL AID TO HELP YOU GO TO THE UNIVERSITY AND YOUR TUITION COSTS WILL BE VERY LOW. IF YOU COME FROM A FAMILY THAT IS WEALTHY, AND YOU’RE A FANTASTIC GENIUS, WELL YOUR TUITION WILL BE LOWER ALSO. SO NEARLY FREE AS POSSIBLE MEANS TO DRIVE THAT COST TO THE LOWEST POSSIBLE POSITION FOR THE LARGEST NUMBER OF INSTATE STUDENTS AGAINST THE VALUE OF OR THE COST OF THE DEGREE.

TED SIMONS: DO YOU THINK THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND OTHERS THAT ARE CRITICAL OF THIS PROCESS ARE SAYING IT'S NOT EVERYONE GETTING IT NEARLY FREE AS POSSIBLE. THEY ARE NOT SEEING THE DYNAMIC INVOLVED THAT YOU DESCRIBED.

MICHAEL CROW: THEY HAVEN’T LOOKED AT OUR DATA SO THEY’D HAVE TO DO THE ANALYTICAL INDICATORS WE HAVE TAKEN. WHAT WE ARE AFTER IS, THERE IS NO FINANCIAL BARRIER FOR ATTENDANCE TO ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY FOR AN INSTATE STUDENT. WE SIT DOWN WITH EVERY FAMILY AND FIND A WAY TO WORK IT OUT.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS DACA RECIPIENTS, THAT WAS ALSO INCLUDED IN THIS LAWSUIT, YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE BOARD OF REGENTS ALLOWING FOR IN-STATE TUITION EVEN THOUGH A UNANIMOUS COURT OF APPEAL'S RULING SAID THESE FOLKS ARE NOT ELIGIBLE, THEY ARE GETTING IT FOR NOW. YOUR THOUGHTS?

MICHAEL CROW: I THINK THAT DACA STUDENTS ARE A GROUP OF STUDENTS WHOSE FAMILY CIRCUMSTANCES ARE REALLY COMPLICATED. THEY ARE IN THE UNITED STATES NOT THROUGH THEIR OWN ACTIONS. THEY HAVE GRADUATED FROM ARIZONA HIGH SCHOOLS, THEY’RE TRYING TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THEIR LIVES. ARE THEY AMERICAN STUDENTS, INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS, STUDENTS FROM CHINA, KOREA? ISRAEL? MEXICO? WE HAVE HAD STUDENTS FROM ALL OF THOSE COUNTRIES AS DACA STUDENTS, OR WE HAVE. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL IS ASKING, THE BOARD OF REGENTS SAYS WE WAIT FOR A FINAL RULING BECAUSE OF THE DISAGREEMENT. WHATEVER THE FINAL RULING IS, WHATEVER THE FINAL TUITION REQUIREMENT IS, THAT'S WHAT WE'LL CHARGE. WE ARE TRYING TO STAY FOCUSED ON HELPING THE STUDENTS BE SUCCESSFUL WITH THEIR LIVES. THEIR PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES ARE HAPPENING TO THEM RIGHT NOW. WE ARE TRYING TO BE HELPFUL TO THEM RIGHT NOW. IT'S EASY FOR MOST OF US TO HAVE EMPATHY FOR A LATE ADOLESCENT YOUNG ADULT WHO DOESN'T KNOW HOW THEY GOT HERE BUT HAS TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THEIR LIVES. PEOPLE ARE ARGUING ABOUT THEM, THEY DON’T NECESSARILY UNDERSTAND THAT. WE ARE TRYING TO STAY FOCUSED ON THE STUDENT, KEEP THINGS AS STABLE AS WE POSSIBLY CAN, AND WHEN WE GET A FINAL RULING FROM THE COURT, WE'LL KNOW WHAT THE PRICE SHOULD BE AND THAT'S WHAT THE PRICE WILL BE.

TED SIMONS: SO WHEN CRITICS OF THE ACTION SAY IT SOUNDS LIKE THE BOARD OF REGENTS THINKS IT'S OKAY TO IGNORE THE UNANIMOUS RULING FROM THE STATE COURT OF APPEALS, DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHERE THEY ARE COMING FROM?

MICHAEL CROW: I UNDERSTAND THAT SOMEONE WOULD SAY THAT. WE ARE TOLD BY COUNSEL THAT IN GENERAL YOU WAIT FOR THESE KINDS OF THINGS UNTIL THE FINAL RULING. ONE COURT WILL RULE ONE WAY THEN ANOTHER WAY, AND YOU KNOW THAT IT’S GOING BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT SO YOU WAIT FOR THAT RULING. PARTICULAR IN A CASE WHERE YOUNG PEOPLE'S LIVES ARE BEING EFFECTED, WHO IN A SENSE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CIRCUMSTANCES THEY FIND THEMSELVES IN. AT THE END OF THE DAY THE BOARD MAKES THE DETERMINATIONS AND THE COURT MAKES THESE DETERMINATIONS AND THE UNIVERSITY IMPLEMENTS THEM. WE ARE INTERESTED IN STAYING FOCUSED ON WHAT WE DO, WE’RE THE TEACHERS, WE’RE THE PROFESSORS, WE’RE THE NURTURERS TRYING TO HELP THESE STUDENTS TO BE ABLE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THEIR LIVES, AND THEN WHEN WE KNOW WHAT THE RIGHT TUITION SHOULD BE, THAT'S THE TUITION THAT WE'LL CHARGE.

TED SIMONS: ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS SAID THAT THE DACA RECIPIENTS, THAT PART OF THE LAWSUIT WAS A VEHICLE, LOOKING OVERALL AT TUITION HIKES, WHICH WE’VE TALKED ABOUT. DO YOU THINK THIS WAS A VEHICLE, YOU THINK THIS WAS A SMOKE SCREEN?

MICHAEL CROW: I DON'T KNOW, THE LAW IS COMPLICATED, PUBLIC POLICY IS COMPLICATED AND POLITICS IS COMPLICATED. I THINK ALL THREE OF THOSE THINGS ARE WORKING AT THE SAME TIME. MY ASSIGNMENT’S QUITE A BIT SIMPLER. MY JOB IS TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO HOW TO EDUCATE AS MANY ARIZONANS AT A QUALITY WORLD-CLASS UNIVERSITY ATTAINMENT AT THE LOWEST POSSIBLE PRICE AND ALSO TO FIND A WAY TO HELP A FEW STUDENTS WHO ARE HERE BY EVERY MEANS YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE, THROUGH EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE, THESE DACA STUDENTS, TO HELP THEIR LIVES NOT BE MATERIALLY DAMAGED WHILE THESE PUBLIC POLICY QUESTIONS ARE BEING RESOLVED, WHILE THESE LEGAL QUESTIONS ARE BEING RESOLVED. WE WAIT FOR THESE THINGS TO BE RESOLVED. PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS ASKED THE CONGRESS TO MAKE A RESOLUTION ON THESE STUDENTS WITHIN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. THERE IS A LOT OF POSITIVE ENERGY COMING OUT OF WASHINGTON, A LOT OF PEOPLE BEGINNING TO THINK WE NEED TO TAKE CARE OF THESE STUDENTS. AND SO MY HOPE IS THAT THAT ULTIMATELY IS TAKEN CARE OF EVENTUALLY, THE SUPREME COURT OF ARIZONA WILL MAKE A RULING IN THIS CASE. WE'LL KNOW WHAT TO CHARGE AND BE ABOUT OUR BUSINESS.

TED SIMONS: DIANE DOUGLAS, THE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION, WAS BACK HERE IN ARIZONA CAME OUT IN SUPPORT OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S LAWSUIT. HER QUOTE WAS, WE WANT TO SET OUR CHILDREN UP FOR SUCCESS WHEN THEY GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE, NOT BE RIDDLED WITH SO MUCH DEBT THAT THEIR CHOICES ARE LIMITED. THE MINDSET IS OUT THERE. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

MICHAEL CROW: THAT IS THERE, AND WE’RE VERY COGNIZANT OF THIS MINDSET. SUPERINTENDENT DOUGLAS IS LOOKING AT THE NATIONAL DATA AND TRENDS. ONE THING WE CAN SAY ABOUT A-S-U, WE ARE SO COGNIZANT OF THIS CONCERN, IF YOU ATTEND A-S-U AND GRADUATE WITH DEBT, IT WILL BE ON AVERAGE ABOUT $24,000, 40% OF OUR STUDENTS GRADUATE WITH NO DEBT AT ALL. SO THE AVERAGE DEBT ACROSS ALL OUR GRADUATES WHO ARE GRADUATING IS $14,000. THESE ARE WELL BELOW THE NATIONAL AVERAGE. THESE STORIES WE SOMETIMES HEAR ABOUT IN NATIONAL PUBLICATIONS OF STUDENT WITH HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OF DEBT AND NO DEGREE, THOSE ARE NOT THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WE ARE OPERATING IN. WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO KEEP OUR COST OF ATTENDANCE COMPARATIVELY LOW, WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO KEEP OUR DEBT LOADS COMPARATIVELY LOW. WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO MANAGE THIS. I HAVE THIS THING, I DON'T WANT OUR AVERAGE DEBT TO GO ABOVE A HONDA ACCORD, TO GO ABOVE A NICE NEW CAR. SO YES, ON A NATIONAL SCALE, THERE MAY BE A LOT OF ISSUES IN A LOT OF PLACES, THOSE ISSUES ARE NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY. SO WE KNOW THE RETURN ON THE INVESTMENT THAT STUDENTS MAKE IN PURSUING OUR DEGREES. OUR DEGREES, SPECIFICALLY AT A-S-U, HAVE AN AVERAGE RATE OF RETURN OF 12% EACH YEAR. THAT IS, THE RETURN ON THE ACTUAL INVESTMENT MADE ON THE STUDENT OR THE FAMILY IS ABOUT 12% ON AVERAGE, ABOVE 20% FOR ENGINEERING, A LITTLE BIT BELOW 10% FOR EDUCATION, 12% ON AVERAGE. THAT'S A FANTASTIC RETURN. WE THINK IT'S A GOOD INVESTMENT. I UNDERSTAND THESE CONCERNS. I UNDERSTAND THEM IN MANY, MANY WAYS. AT A-S-U, WE WORK HARD TO MAKE CERTAIN THAT WE KEEP THE DEBT LOW AS POSSIBLE. WE KEEP THE COST AS LOW AS POSSIBLE. BUT JUST AS IMPORTANT, THE QUALITY OF THE DEGREE AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE. THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS GRADUATING AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE, THE IMPACT ON AS MANY DIFFERENT FAMILIES FROM AS MANY DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS AS POSSIBLE AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE. THE EQUATION IS ALL OF THOSE THINGS TOGETHER. WE ALSO KNOW THAT MORE THAN 95% OF OUR GRADUATES ARE EMPLOYED OR IN GRADUATE SCHOOL WITHIN ONE YEAR OF GRADUATION. THERE IS HUGE DEMAND FOR THE PEOPLE GRADUATING FROM OUR INSTITUTION. FAMILIES SHOULD TAKE ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THAT. AND LET ME SAY ONE LAST TIME: THERE’S MUTLIPLE PATHWAYS. COMMUNITY PATHWAYS, COMING IN AS A FRESHMAN, COMING IN ONLINE, GOING TO ONE OF OUR OTHER CAMPUSES AND SO WE HAVE TRIED TO RESPOND TO THIS BREADTH OF NEEDS THAT WE SEE THAT PEOPLE HAVE.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. WE WANTED TO GIVE YOU A CHANCE TO RESPOND TO THE LAWSUIT. GOOD TO HAVE YOU. UP NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," HOW TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT CONTROVERSIAL AND AT TIMES FRIGHTENING CURRENT EVENTS.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents earlier this month over high tuition rates at state universities, a move Arizona State University President Michael Crow believes is the wrong way to solve the problem of high education costs.

Brnovich’s argument stems from the Arizona Constitution, which dictates that public education must be “as nearly free as possible.” Crow insists tuition costs are in accordance with the Arizona Constitution, despite Brnovich’s claims.

Crow told Arizona Horizon that while tuition was lower in the past, ASU wasn’t able to provide necessary resources for the students to be successful and sustainable. According to Crow, the university’s new financial model involves a balance between modest tuition and high financial aid.  The average net tuition for an in-state student is about 2,000 dollars, with 75 percent of those students also receiving financial aid.

“We’re at the lowest possible cost for tuition that we can be and still deliver the quality of product that we’re attempting to deliver,” Crow says. “We sit down with every family, we sit down with every student, and we find a way to work it out.”

 

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Michael Crow: President, Arizona State University

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