Arizona: An Honor or an Invoice?

This is a little late now, but from Arizona comes the odd news that the University of Arizona is now charging its students extra for being smart and working hard. According to an article by Michelle Monroe in the student paper, the Arizona Daily Wildcat:

There are 629 fewer Honors College students this year than last after almost 19 percent of the 2009 Honors College population withdrew. The total enrollment is at 3,116, the most significant decrease since a peak high in 2004 with 4,228.

This year the Honors College implemented a $500 yearly fee. Some students left because of this new cost.

The university had operated the university-wide, interdisciplinary honors program using its own money since 1962.

The university apparently decided to implement the fee because of the cost of running programs for honors students. Rather than, say, eat the cost itself because those might be exactly the sort of students the university wishes to attract, Arizona decided to just pass those fees to the students.

According to the university, the honors college exists,

…to foster an enduring spirit of inquiry and discovery so that artistically and academically talented students develop the courage to address uncommon challenges and the commitment to promote social responsibility throughout their lives.

Really? Because $500 is also roughly the fine for an Arizona DUI conviction.

It seems to me that a good way to “foster an enduring spirit of inquiry and discovery” would be not punishing students taking part in the honors program.

The university apparently still plans to offer generous scholarships to varsity athletes.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer