Arizona College Application Campaign Initiative Results

The Start Up

The Initiative began in 2012-2013 as a trial effort undertaken by the three public universities under the encouragement of the American Council for Education. Although the number of applications was small, this first attempt provided critical information for successful planning of a full pilot program coordinated by the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education in November of 2013. The chart below describes the Campaign growth.

Historical Review of the Arizona College Application Campaign

Number of High Schools Invited Number of High Schools Participating Number of seniors reported by high school Number of Students Participating Number of Applications Filed During the Event % of senior class Number of Students Filing Their First Application Total Number of Applications Filed During the Event
2012 Trial 28 11 N/A 203 203 N/A N/A N/A
2013 Pilot 28 9 3065 1811 (59%) 950 31% 444 14%

Potential Impact on Social Capital and Economic Benefit

Research tells us that 93% of high school students say they plan to go to college; yet, just over one quarter (26%) of Arizonans over the age of 25 have obtained a college degree. To address this educational deficit Arizona leaders have identified goals of increased college going and completion rates through the Arizona Ready Council.

Goal: Increase the number of community college students earning                  associate degrees and/or certificates to 44,000 and the number                  of in-state university transfers to 12,500; and

Goal: Double the number of students receiving baccalaureate degrees                  to 36,000 per year

The impact of the  Arizona College Application Campaign Pilot clearly indicates that the AzCAC Initiative has the potential help the state meet these Arizona Ready 2020 Goals. Data collected from the 9 participating schools provides initial data upon which to base inferences of potential results if the Initiative was taken statewide. An Infographic Summary of survey data from students and site coordinators collected regarding the Campaign.

Indicators of Success from 2013-2014 Campaign:

  • 100% of the site coordinators in the schools participating in the 2013-2014 pilot will continue with the Campaign in 2014-2015.

  • Seniors in AzCAC schools reported completing 950 applications and an additional 66 students stated they started an application during this event.

  • 444 students said they completed their FIRST college application during the AzCAC event representing, 14% of all seniors at the schools and 25% of seniors completing the survey.

Economic Impact:

Fourteen percent represents the proportion of all 3,065 seniors in the pilot high schools who both completed the Exit survey (59%) and indicated that they filed their FIRST application during their school event. Thus, 14% will serve as the basis for social capital and economic projections. This benchmark was selected for two reasons (1) students who applied for the FIRST time during the AzCAC event likely applied due to the peer, school staff, and cohort support/encouragement provided through the campaign and (2) 14% is a very conservative benchmark for projections because 41% or 1,254 of the students in the participating high schools did not complete the Exit Survey and therefore 0 were counted as FIRST time filers.

The Commission projects the potential growth of AzCAC sites to 1/5 of all high schools in November 2014 representing 12,400 Seniors. If this projection is attained an estimated 1,736 Arizona graduates will for the FIRST time apply to a postsecondary institution during the AzCAC event at their school. Calculations and assumptions that underlying the AzCAC estimates/projections can be found in the Projection of Potential Impact of AzCAC document.

If only ½ of this estimated number of FIRST filers or 868 students would actually enter a postsecondary institution it would have a dramatic effect on the economy of the state in two ways. First, an estimated additional $3M in Pell Grant funds would come to the state each year these students attend an Arizona institution. All campaign high schools were Title I, so we make the assumption that a very large percentage may receive the Pell Grant. This number would increase the same amount each following year as a cohort graduates and would stabilize around the $10M mark after 4 years.

Second, if only ½ of the number enrolling persists to a baccalaureate degree the 2014-2015 class of graduates alone would bring an additional $2.1M in taxes each year to the state coffers over what they would earn as high school graduates. Furthermore, they would contribute an additional $7M to the Arizona economy for each year of their working life. This boost to the economy and additional taxes would be compounded by each following cohort of graduates comprised of ¼ of the 14% of FIRST filers. At the point of full statewide implementation of the AzCAC strategy the yield would be an additional $10.8M in taxes and $34.9M infused into the economy annually as each cohort is added. Thus by 2023 these graduates would contribute an additional $100.7M to the Arizona economy.

Finally, another source of data is provided for evaluation of the Arizona College Application Campaign. A Summary and Lessons Learned document describes what was observed, problems needing solutions, and advice from site coordinators about the campaign. The varied sources of data will direct the 3rd year of the Campaign.