ABOR releases new reports on fall university enrollment

The Arizona Board of Regents unveiled two new reports on fall university enrollment and postsecondary attainment for Arizona’s highschool graduates. While there’s a modest uptick in college enrollment and completion, Arizona falls short in achieving adequate postsecondary education for its high school graduates.

The 2023 Postsecondary Attainment Report from the Arizona Board of Regents investigates how many Arizona public high school graduates enroll in postsecondary institutions within a year after graduation, along with the quantity and percentage of those who obtain a postsecondary credential within six years after graduating.

Promoting postsecondary attainment, measured by the percentage of adults obtaining a college degree, results in a better-educated workforce, spurs economic growth, and elevates both wages and the overall quality of life for individuals who hold degrees.

The Academic Year 2024 Enrollment Report provides data on the enrollment of students at Arizona’s public universities from fall 2023. It is measured by the headcount on the 21st day for each university and its various campuses.

While college enrollment in Arizona is on the rise, the state’s level of educational achievement sets the stage for economic stagnation down the road.

In 2023, student enrollment at Arizona’s public universities reached a record high of 251,194, marking a 14.1% increase compared to the previous year. The rise in total enrollment is attributed to the popularity and growth of online programs. Specifically, during fall 2023, 104,419 students participated in online programs offered by an Arizona public university, constituting 41.6% of the total enrollment.

Still, attainment rates remain a concern. Recent data indicates that only 30.3% of Arizona’s 2017 high school graduates obtained a certificate, credential, or college degree. This stagnant progress is worrying, particularly since Arizona requires an additional 26,300 bachelor’s degrees annually to sustain its economy. This low educational achievement rate restricts the upward mobility of students and poses a risk for future economic stagnation.

One positive highlight from the enrollment report is the increased admission of Pell-eligible students to universities, with 57,793 enrolled, 54.8% of whom are Arizona residents. This success is attributed to the Arizona Promise Program, a scholarship initiative that guarantees financial aid to qualifying low-income Arizona students, covering tuition and fees at the state’s public universities. To enhance accessibility for Arizona students, the state must continue supporting and expanding this comprehensive financial aid program.

The Arizona Board of Regents is dedicated to promoting access for Arizona residents to both undergraduate and graduate institutions. They aim to encourage the exploration, practical application, and sharing of knowledge while expanding the advantages of university initiatives to the broader community in Arizona. Additionally, they strive to maximize the state’s investments in higher education.

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