Rim Country Students Must Travel To Safford To Get Low-Cost Degree

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Gila Community College students can’t take advantage of a landmark deal between Arizona State University and Eastern Arizona College — unless they’re willing to drive to Safford.

EAC and ASU recently struck a deal to allow students to complete a four-year degree in nursing, business, elementary education, operations maintenance and other fields entirely at the Safford-based community college.

That would leave Rim Country students even more dependent on Payson’s effort to convince ASU or some other university to build a four-year college here, which means local students could get a degree at maybe half the normal tuition rate — while saving even more money on room and board.

Initially, some hoped the arrangement would also offer GCC students a low-cost path to a four-year degree, since EAC provides the credential and administers the community college here.

However, ASU officials confirmed that while GCC students can enroll in the program, they would have to actually attend classes on the EAC campus in Safford.

The Board of Regents has approved the program, after for years opposing EAC’s efforts to win the Legislature’s approval of its plan to offer four-year degrees on its own. The Regents approved an annual tuition of $5,500 for the program based on the EAC campus, about half what students would pay if they took classes on ASU’s Tempe campus.

An earlier Roundup story about the program reported that GCC students would have equal access to the lower-cost degree. However, ASU officials have now confirmed that students would have to take their classes on the Safford campus, which actually lies farther from Payson than Tempe.

The EAC-ASU partnership represents just the latest effort by ASU to partner with community colleges and communities to offer low-cost college degrees.

The most recent announcement involves plans for ASU’s W.P. Carey business school to offer classes for a Master’s in Business Administration at an office park in Chandler. The MBA program would be housed in a 24-acre office park based in three 10-story office towers. The university would become one of the anchor tenants for the office complex.

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