There is no better gift than a higher education. For Arizonans, having the opportunity to obtain a quality, affordable, accessible degree is the gift that will keep on giving. Arizonans with a degree from one of our state universities have a greater earning potential than those with only a high school diploma.
The benefits for graduates do not end there, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey in 2005 that shows more college graduates being very happy, compared to those who only finished high school or less.
The benefits go beyond the individual; other Arizonans would benefit as greater earnings will increase the tax base and allow for further investment in education and other state needs. A study by the College Board shows graduates volunteer and donate blood more often and are more likely to vote. A highly qualified workforce is critical to enticing new businesses and potential job growth to our state.
The past and possible future budget cuts threaten our university system by impairing access and potentially increasing tuition costs, making a degree too expensive for many Arizonans. Without an affordable higher education system, we will be taking opportunities away from many of our bright and hopeful, who have the potential to impact our state and bring a better quality of life to all Arizonans.
In 1979, almost 20 percent of Arizona’s budget was invested in higher education. Today it is only about 10 percent. Is it time to be penny wise and pound foolish? No, we say it’s time to strengthen our investment in higher education and in a flourishing tomorrow. As the new year approaches, it is time to let our legislators know that investment in higher education is critical to our economic recovery and the future of our state.
Ernest Calderón is president of the Arizona Board of Regents. For information on Arizona Solutions Through Higher Education, visit www.highereducationsolution.com.