The Grand Canyon is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Arizona. There is nothing wrong with that. The Grand Canyon is one of the coolest natural sites to visit as it is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and up to one mile deep in certain spots. In fact, nearly five million tourists visit it every year.

Now that you know a little bit more about the Grand Canyon, you should also know a little bit more about the financial aid programs Arizona offers its college-bound residents.

There are two programs residents can apply for which are funded by the Grand Canyon State and dispersed by the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education (ACPE): the Arizona Leveraging Education Assistance Program and the Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program.

Arizona Leveraging Education Assistance Program

The Arizona Leveraging Education Assistance Program (AzLEAP) is a need-based grant designed to help low-income, undergraduate Arizona students afford to attend in-state colleges.

In order to be eligible for AzLEAP, a student must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Be an Arizona resident
  • Be enrolled at least as a half-time, undergraduate student
  • Be attending an eligible Arizona postsecondary institution
  • Complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Demonstrate a substantial financial need for funding
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress according to the postsecondary institution

The average grant amount students typically receive is $1,000 per academic year, though the maximum amount the grant can be is $2,500 per academic year.

Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program

The Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program was previously called the Math, Science and Special Education Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. Despite its name being changed, it is still a need-based, forgivable loan that supports and encourages Arizona residents to go to college to become a teacher to then teach in Arizona public schools.

To be eligible to receive the loan, a student must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • Be an Arizona resident for at least the previous 12 months at the time of submitting their application
  • Be enrolled at least as a half-time student in a bachelor’s degree program that allows the student to work towards earning a teaching degree at an eligible Arizona public college or an alternative teacher certificate at an eligible Arizona private college
  • Be a junior or higher (completed at least 55 credit hours) in a program with the intent to attain a teaching degree in math, science or special education
  • Be seeking their first bachelor’s degree or alternative teaching certificate
  • Have the intent after graduation to teach in a public, low-income Arizona school; public, rural Arizona school; or public school located on an Indian reserve in Arizona
  • Complete and file FAFSA annually
  • Demonstrate a financial need for funding (via the formula of the school’s cost of attendance minus the student’s estimated family contribution)
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • Enter into an agreement with the ACPE to teach in an eligible Arizona public school in a term equal to the number of years the loan was/will be received PLUS one year
  • Sign a promissory note acknowledging the loan’s conditions and promising to repay the loan PLUS 7% interest if the teaching obligation is not met
  • Write a 250-500 word essay on what impact the student intends to make in the classroom
    • This requirement is only for first-time applicants.
  • Complete and submit a loan application annually to ACPE

The loans are given to students on a first-come, first-served basis. The loan is renewable, though students can only receive the loan for up to three years. The maximum amount the loan can be worth is $7,000 per academic year.

Funds from the loan can be used to pay for tuition, instructional materials and mandatory fees.

Major Arizona Colleges and Universities

There are many great colleges in the Grand Canyon State that Arizona residents can choose to attend. Some of these postsecondary institutions include:

  • Arizona State University in Tempe (public)
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott (private)
  • Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff (public)
  • Ottawa University in Phoenix (private)
  • Park University in Glendale (private)
  • Prescott College in Prescott (private)
  • University of Arizona in Tucson (public)
  • Wilkes University in Mesa (private)

Though Arizona may be the top producer of copper in the country, its college financial aid programs are pure gold when it comes to helping Arizona residents afford to attend in-state colleges.