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Nonprofit says Arizona's high college tuition rates violate the constitution

Among the provisions of Arizona’s 1912 state constitution, Section 6 of Article 11 states: “The university and all other state educational institutions ... shall be as nearly free as possible.”

Since 2003, Arizona’s public universities have gone from the bottom third of affordable public college educations to the top quarter of most expensive university systems.

Now, the Arizona Students’ Association wants that to change.

They are promoting a statewide ballot initiative that would put state education officials' feet to the fire — and force them to honor the wording of the Arizona constitution.

The initiative, titled the “ As Nearly Free as Possible Act,” would mandate the state pay 50% of the real costs of public college, paid for by a 2% increase in the state’s corporate income tax.

The Students’ Association launched the campaign Oct. 5 with a press conference on the Hayden Lawn at Arizona State University's Tempe campus — with another planned to be held the same day at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Cesar Aguilar is the executive director of the Students’ Association. The Show spoke with him to learn about their initiative.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.