I was thrilled to see the announcement yesterday in the New York Times that Starbucks will provide very generous support for students to complete their degree with ASU Online. This is a great partnership that brings together two organizations that recognize the importance of higher education to the long term success of individuals, communities, and the country.
Despite declining state support for higher education and resulting increases in tuition at universities, a college degree still remains a very good deal. Several reports recently have cited the very strong return on investment for people who earn a college degree compared to people with a high school education or less. Labor Department statistics show that on average people with a college degree earn almost twice per hour than people with a high school education, and that gap has increased over the last five years and considerably over the last 60 years.
These figures demonstrate that college debt is the best kind of debt you will take on because the potential returns are so high. Nevertheless, the more than $1 trillion in student debt, which now exceeds credit card debt, is not something to be ignored. ASU and President Crow are leading the charge to make college affordable and worthwhile and to make sure that students and families who make the investment know they are likely to graduate and succeed.
So what can we do to help students with financial difficulties? First, ASU provides one of the “best bangs for the buck” meaning it delivers a high quality education where students succeed at high rates and for affordable costs. More than 70 percent of students at ASU receive some form of financial assistance, which in 2012-2013 amounted to a billion dollars.
Financial assistance comes in many forms — scholarships, grants, work study, hourly employment, and loans. In the School of Sustainability, we offer a number of work-study and hourly positions where you gain valuable experience to build your resume while putting some dollars in your pocket. This past year, we started a Sustainability Champions scholarship for first time freshmen. This provides $2500 that you can use to help you pay for your tuition or for expenses to help you solve a sustainability challenge of your choosing. In addition, the School of Sustainability has 4 named scholarships and will be adding 2 others next year. I strongly encourage you to look at these opportunities as well as others that are open to all ASU students.
Come be a part of a university that is committed to the idea that success in college should not be dictated by family income — all students, regardless of background, deserve to have an opportunity to achieve their best, to open doors in a way that only a college education can. We are here to help you. Please don’t hesitate to ask. Feel free to contact any of our fantastic academic success specialists about financial assistance that will help you achieve your dream of getting a sustainability degree.