Another Weird Idea from the Arizona Legislature

Oh, Arizona. The state that’s given us proposed laws to thwart college professors who use profanity, and allow students to carry guns on campus, has given us another example of almost radiantly bad public policy.

According to an article by Anne Ryman The Arizona Republic:

A bill that would require Arizona undergraduate students at the three state universities to contribute at least $2,000 toward the cost of their education narrowly passed out of the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

The legislation [was] sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills. Kavanagh maintains that giving away free university tuition in tough times is bad policy, and free tuition can have negative consequences such as contributing to high college-dropout rates.

Athletes, however, would be exempt from the policy.

While Kavanagh explained that he proposed the legislation so that students will have some “skin in the game,” Article 11, Section 6 of Arizona’s constitution states that “the university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible.”

There is no evidence that free tuition actually contributes to high college-dropout rates. There is, in fact, substantial evidence that it’s the high cost of college that’s related to dropout rates.

While Kavanagh is apparently worried about all of these Arizona students going to college for free, in fact 47 percent of all Arizona college students graduate with debt. The average debt load is $18,454.

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