In recent years, ASA has increased our focus on grassroots organizing. We believe that the best way for us to achieve victories for students to put a face to the issues and empower students to advocate for themselves.
Our focus on grassroots organizing and developing leaders has helped ASA to obtain some of our biggest accomplishments. Almost all of our victories are linked to a campaign that was ran on campuses and brought students’ voices to the Arizona Board of Regents or the State Capitol.
Voting Student Regent
ASA first proposed the idea of a student regent in the mid-1970s. In 1978, the position was created by an act of the Arizona Legislature, on the conditions that the Legislature had to re-authorize the position regularly and that the Student Regent had no vote on the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR). In 1987, ASA convinced the Legislature and then-Governor Evan Mecham to give the Student Regent a permanent position on ABOR. In 1989, ASA successfully lobbied the Legislature and then-Governor Rose Mofford to give the Student Regent full voting powers on the Board of Regents. In the late 1990s, ASA was again successful in expanding the power and influence of the Student Regent position by creating a seat for a second Student Regent. Student Regents now have two-year terms; they spend their first year learning about the position in a non-voting capacity, and become the voting Student Regent in the second year of their term.
Arizona Financial Aid Trust Fund (AFAT)
In the mid-1980s, ASA recognized the need for a state-based financial aid program; at the time, only federally subsidized programs existed for students in Arizona. In 1989 ASA proposed and won passage of the Arizona Financial Aid Trust, or AFAT. It provides aid to students who demonstrate a clear need for financial aid. Students approved a surcharge (equal to 1% of resident undergraduate tuition) through student referenda on Arizona’s university campuses to provide initial funding for the program and the state was to provide matching funds. In 2006 ASA was successful in increasing the statutory obligation of the state to match the students’ contributions to AFAT by a ratio of two-to-one.
ASA fought for and secured the only form of state-based financial aid, the Arizona Financial Aid Trust (AFAT). In 1989 ASA proposed and won passage of the Arizona Financial Aid Trust. This year, ASA won a real victory by ensuring that the state match to the Arizona Financial Aid Trust will not be permanently removed – guaranteeing future generations will have AFAT as a resource. AFAT distributed more than $14 million to Arizona students in 2009-2010.
ASA lobbied at the national level for maintaining the maximum Pell funding. In 2011, the Pell Grant was in danger of being cut, but students next year will be able to receive the maximum of $5,500. For example, if this legislation had passed, 581 students at NAU would have lost their Pell Grants. ASA’s work on this saved many Pell recipients almost $800 per year.
In 2012, ASA successfully defeated a bill that would have required all students to pay $2,000 a year out of pocket without the use of scholarship or grants. ASA was able to take the story national, and the bill’s sponsor said it became so controversial that he would never bring it up again.
In 2012, ASA is pursuing a ballot proposition that will provide $300 million a year for universities - $150 million of that money will go directly toward student financial aid scholarships due to ASA’s lobbying of the campaign.
ASA worked to get Proposition 100 passed overwhelmingly. Without Prop 100, more of the financial burden for the cost of attendance would have been placed on students and families. Prop. 100 passed with over 70 percent approval rating in legislative districts with college campuses.
In 2012, ASA advocated for and won funding equalization between the UA, NAU and ASU and worked to secure increased funding for the UA Medical School in Phoenix.
ASA fought to minimize the budget cuts to the university system. The State Senate proposed slashing university budgets by $235 million, but ASA worked to minimize the overall cuts through grassroots campaigning and advocacy efforts. If the $235 million cut had passed, students and families would have seen tuition and fees raised significantly more.
ASA has hosted LobbyCon since 2011 and trained more than 350 student leaders how to lobby their elected officials on issues that matter most to them. Student lobbyists worked in 2011 to protect and defend students from drastic budget cuts and successfully advocated for a bill passed that grants in-state tuition to student veterans. This bill makes getting a college education more affordable and brings significant economic benefits to the state. Student veterans at the UA have a $91 million impact to the local economy. In 2012, ASA successfully lobbied against HB2675, which sought to force all students to pay $2,000 out of pocket toward tuition without using grants or scholarships. In conjunction to the day-and-night lobbying ASA does at the Capitol, the organization holds an annual lobby day at the Arizona Capitol. In 2013, more than 100 student leaders attended the day and over 60 lobby meetings were held.
ASA has the largest internship program of any statewide student association. Since 2008, more than 700 students have successfully participated in ASA’s advocacy internship program. ASA sponsored the first annual Conference of Arizona Student Leaders (CASL) in 2010 to get all community college and university student leaders together to strengthen the statewide student voice. More than 450 student leaders participated in the conference since 2010.
ASA has registered more than 22,000 voters since 2008. One of ASA’s highest priorities is to register, educate and get voters to the polls on Election Day. ASA works to register voters and engage students to build an effective student voting block. During the 2012 election season, hundreds of student volunteers mobilized to register and engage 7,177 new student voters!