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Facing the twin headwinds of high unemployment and the rising cost of education, recent college graduates in Arizona have the highest student loan default rate in the country, according to data from the Department of Education.

Unlike Montana, where the default rate is about three percent, more than 16 percent of student loans are in default in Arizona, reflecting 44,000 students. The national average is about eight percent.

Each year, the Arizona Board of Regents, which governs the state's university system, including the big three colleges, Arizona State, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, reviews the state of funding and tuition.

According to the report, graduate students have faced the biggest increase in tuition.

For graduate students, tuition increases have driven debt sharply upwards, even compared to undergraduate students. In Arizona, undergraduates debt has increased 17.4 percent from about $18,000 in 2006 to just over $21,000 in 2011, but at the same time graduate debt increased 25 percent from just under $36,000 to nearly $45,000. The national average is $24,000 for undergrads and $47,000 for graduate students.

To account for this, many students use loans to cover their expenses, including tuition, books, computers and other needs.

For both undergraduates and graduate students, student loans remains the largest source of funding, according to data from the Arizona Board of Regents. Federal student loans account for almost 48 percent of funding or $824 million for 2011. Scholarships and grants, from the universities and federal grants are about 41 percent and campus employment is about 10 percent or around $173 million.

Private loans, those that come from banks, credit unions, and private funders like Discover, account for $124 million or about seven percent.

Awards have increased by nearly 75 precent or $745 million in the last five years according to Regents, however, that fails to keep pace with tuition increases which have doubled in the same time.

"Tuition has gone up by about two-hundred percent, more than two-hundred percent," said Dan Sullivan, communications director for the Arizona Students Association. "State-based financial aid is nowhere. So the only place that students have to turn is student loans."

However, the universities are trying. Arizona Board of Regents policy requires each university to set aside 14 precent of tuition revenues for need-based financial aid, however, the Regents requested that amount be shifted to 17 percent. The universities have agreed and have set aside an extra $13 million to the 130 million already set aside since 2011.

Arizona stafford loans tuition Stafford loans,


New changes for graduate and professional students instituted by Congress will add more pressure to students, who already face tuition increases and a faltering economy.

According to data from the Project on Student Debt, using data from the Department of Education, the average debt for a student in Arizona is $18,454, putting Arizona among the bottom five of student debt by state. While nearly half of Arizona graduates carry some debt, they remain below the national average in total debt load.

Students in New Hampshire had the highest debt load, carrying on average of $31,048 for a four-year degree, while students in Utah had the lowest at $15,550.

South Dakota contained the largest number of students who carried some debt, more than three-fourths of students in the state had debt, while Hawaii had the lowest number at 38 percent. Nationally, more than 50 percent of students graduating from a four-year degree carried debt, owing around $23,000.

Though Arizona graduates remain low in the average debt, the sate had one of the highest numbers of people in default on their federal loans in fiscal 2009, according to figures released the U.S. Department of Education.

While Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University have not raised their respective tuitions this year, in the last ten years, the residential tuition for students at Arizona's state universities has nearly tripled.

University of Arizona students have faced the largest increase. In 2002, tuition was $2583 for full-time residents and $11,103 for non-residents. This year, tuition at the University of Arizona, the highest tuition among the three, $10,035 for full-time residents and $26,231 for non-residents.

Nationally, two-thirds of college seniors graduated with loans in 2010, and they carried an average of $25,250 in debt.

Tuition increases drive large increases in student loans. Recent information from both the Arizona Board of Regents and the US Department of Education note a sharp uptick in student loans in Arizona of 17 percent, one of the highest in the nation.

At the same time, the Bureau of Labor estimates that unemployment for recent college graduates climbed from 8.7% in 2009 to 9.1% in 2010, the highest annual rate on record for college graduates aged 20 to 24.

Arizona stafford loans tuition,


A consequence of last year’s national debt ceiling debate, Congress and the White House passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. As part of the negotiations, the act dismantled the interest-free subsidy for student loans for graduate and professional students which when into effect on July 1, 2012.

Before the act, graduate and professional students could borrow money from two different sources under the Stafford Loan program: subsidized loans, which the federal government paid interest until six months after graduation; and un-subdized, direct finance loans that included a 3.2 percent interest rate that accumulated even as the student was working through their respective program.

Undergraduate students were spared and the amount of money available for Pell Grants increased to $17 billion. The act also eliminated direct loan payment incentives, a discount that students received for agreeing to have money pulled directly from their accounts every month.

According to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, this included a 0.25 interest rate reduction.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this specific part of the act Budget Act saves the federal government about $18.1 billion over the next ten years, with additional savings from the interest change adding up to $21.6 billion.

With the Pell Grant increase, this leaves about $4.6 billion for deficit reduction, a tiny percentage of the total $1.5 trillion that Congress needed to address.

student loans Safford Pell Grant,


The healthy rainfall this monsoon season has been a blessing for our long drought. Hopefully the rains continue along with the anticipated start of the new fall semester here on the UA campus. AZPM looks forward to welcoming a new group of student crew, interns, and volunteers that help us across the organization each semester.

Recent ratings information was released for television and radio. In the May Nielsen sweeps, PBS 6 increased its full day reach by 4% from the same period last year. Top rated programs in May include MASTERPIECE Mystery! Sherlock on Sundays at 8 p.m., Antiques Roadshow on Mondays at 8 p.m. and Men of Mystery! on Thursdays at 8 p.m. PBS Kids viewership grew 27% in full day viewership and 242% in primetime compared to last May.

Our NPR radio service maintains its top rank among other news/talk stations in the Tucson market. NPR 89.1 set a new record for cumulative audience in Pima, Pinal, Cochise, and Santa Cruz counties. The cumulative audience for listeners age 12+ was 109,400, eclipsing the previous high of 108,700 in the Fall of 2009. For listeners age 50+, NPR 89.1 increased 5% and Classical 90.5 increased 5.7% from Spring 2011.

You’ve been hearing a new voice mornings on NPR 89.1. John Weaver joined the radio team as the new morning host and newscaster just a few weeks ago. John has an extensive career in both commercial and public radio throughout the Midwest, having most recently spent more than seven years at Minnesota Public Radio. Also new to the AZPM team is Enrique Aldana who joined us as our new Associate Director of Development. Enrique, a graduate of UA’s Eller College of Management, comes to AZPM from Tucson Newspapers, Inc. where he served as Advertising Sales Manager since 2004.

This month, ReadyTV celebrates what would have been Julia Childs’ 100th birthday (August 15th) all month long with a marathon of your favorite Julia shows including; In Julia’s Kitchen, French Chef Classics, Julia Child Memories, Cooking with Master Chefs and more.

AZPM’s Your Vote 2012 election coverage continues with a series of special broadcast forums. In anticipation of the upcoming Primary Election on August 28th, AZPM hosted the first of these forums on July 23rd with the CD2 Republican Primary Forum on a special edition of Arizona Illustrated, simulcast on NPR 89.1 and online. On August 13th PBS 6 will host the CD2 Democratic Primary Forum and the CD2 Democratic Primary Forum on August 20th. Both programs are special editions of Arizona Illustrated at 6:30 p.m. More candidate forums and special debates will be announced during the weeks ahead. Check your weekly Preview newsletter for dates and times. AZPM’s Your Vote 2012 is your source for thorough, un-biased, expert analysis across radio, TV, and online at vote. The website has candidate interviews, forums, interactive maps, proposition overviews and more.

I am pleased to announce that the PBS drama series MASTERPIECE, has been honored by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with 37 nominations for the 2012 Primetime Emmy® Awards – the highest number of nominations the series has received in its history. MASTERPIECE Classic: Downton Abbey received 16 nominations and MASTERPIECE Mystery! Sherlock received 13 nominations. Other nominees include Great Expectations, Page Eight, and The Song of Lunch.

August 18th starts the first TV membership drive of the new fiscal year. Program highlights include one of the best live Frank Sinatra concerts of all time, Frank Sinatra: Concert for the Americas filmed in the Dominican Republic in 1982. This two-hour special airs on Monday, August 20th at 8 pm on PBS6. Other program highlights include The Civil War, Ken Burns’ nine-episode epic documentary starting July 31st at 9 p.m., and The Orangutan Diaries, a five-part BBC’s nature documentary that follows the fragile lives of Bornean Orangutans on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. starting August 8th. Wacky Americana series continues Thursdays at 8 p.m. through the month with Lords of the Gourds, Ferrets: the Pursuit of Excellence, and Cherry Picking Apple Blossom Time. Check program listings here.

I hope you will keep in mind that your pledges of financial support help AZPM to provide you with the award-winning, wide variety of programming that you have grown to expect. Thank you for your viewership, listenership and continued support.

Jack Gibson


The Boston public broadcasting station WGBH, which should be familiar to you as the source of a lot of what's been on PBS over the years, has taken over the public-radio program distributor PRI (Public Radio International), with which you'll be familiar if you listen to much on KUAZ, 89.1. The only reason I bring up this news, of interest mainly to broadcast insiders, is to help some of you figure out exactly what Classical 90.5 is and is not.

PRI, based in Minneapolis with a corporate genealogy that traces back to Minnesota Public Radio, is a completely separate entity from NPR, and in many ways NPR's competitor, producing or distributing most of the news/talk shows you hear on KUAZ that are not Morning Edition or All Things Considered. NPR, in turn, is distinct from PBS, which is a television network/cooperative. There's no such thing as a PBS radio station. And by the way, Classical 90.5 barely registers an NPR presence; the only NPR material you hear on the classical station is the set of five newscasts each weekday and some on the weekends. A Prairie Home Companion, once distributed by PRI, has been for several years a property of American Public Media (APM), the content distribution arm of Minnesota Public Radio (MPR); most of the evening orchestral series are distributed by WFMT, a commercial classical radio station and syndicator in Chicago.

Even though some people used "Coke" some decades ago in reference to all soft drinks, you really shouldn't call Pepsi "Coke," and you shouldn't confuse NPR with PRI or WFMT or, above all, PBS. The safest shorthand way to refer to everything we do here at Arizona Public Media is "public broadcasting" (even though this Internet stuff doesn't really count as "broadcasting").

Now, if you're wondering what PRI does with classical music, take a look at and listen to this report on efforts to re-create the court orchestras at Versailles in the time of King Louis XIV.



Tucson Unified School District board members Miguel Cuevas and Mark Stegeman say pro-Mexican American Studies groups are violating their privacy by staging protests outside of both of the board members’ homes.

The two are asking the groups to be more civil, saying their positions as board members should not subject their homes and workplaces to such protests and what the two are calling harassment.

The Tucson Unified School Board voted in January to eliminate Mexican American Studies courses, after the state deemed the courses in violation of state law. If the district had continued offering the courses, it faced loss of some state funding for being in violation of the state law.

Since the decision to eliminate the courses, former MAS students and supporters of the program have protested the decision in a variety of ways, including chaining themselves to the dias during a scheduled board meeting, resulting in a delay of the meeting.

Cuevas says in a news release that this week, the groups showed up outside his home. In the news release, Cuevas says he lives with his grandparents and the protesters “terrified” his grandmother and his father had to return to the home to tell the protesters to leave.

A similar incident happened at Stegeman’s home, and he says it is not the first time. Last year protesters showed up and interrupted a course he was teaching at the University of Arizona, he says in the release. Stegeman is a member of the Economics faculty at the UA.

Stegeman was president of the school board for the first half of 2012, and Cuevas was voted board president after Stegeman stepped down from that post to return to being a regular board member.

Mexican American Studies Mark Stegeman Miguel Cuevas TUSD,

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