AZ House Lawmakers Want Students to "Have Skin in the Game"

Feb 22, 2012

A House panel voted this afternoon to require students at state universities to pay -- or at least borrow -- $2,000 a year toward the cost of their education. 

Rep. John Kavanagh said students should have some skin in the game, saying they will take their schooling more seriously if they have made an investment. Kavanagh acknowledged that books might add another $1,500 a year.

"The debt at the end of a four-year degree is $14,000, less than the cost of a Chevy Sonic," said Kavanagh. "I personally believe that degrees from our universities are worth far more than Chevy Sonics."

University of Arizona Student President James Allen told members of the House Appropriations Committee there are other expenses, even for students living at home. That got a response from Rep. Michelle Ugenti.

"Welcome to life," she said. "I don't understand why that should affect a modest $2,000 for your education. I mean, we all are thrust into circumstances and unpredictable life experiences."

Rep. Justin Olson said he supports the measure because of the ripple effect of university-provided financial aid.

"Others are paying $4,000, $5,000, $6,000, up to $9,000 because of that financial aid policy," Olson said. "That tuition directly subsidizes the financial aid for need-based scholarships."

He said any money the schools will no longer give out because of that $2,000 minimum tuition requirement should be used to cut costs for everyone else.