Blog: Latino Ed Beat

New Initiative Is Covering ACT Fees in Arizona

Source: Bigstock

Some students throughout Arizona won’t have to add a $40 ACT fee to the list of bills they’ll encounter on the path to college. 

On Wednesday, the Helios Education Foundation, which has offices in Phoenix and Tampa, Florida, announced a five-year, $5.1 million investment in its new College Knowing & Going initiative. The college and career readiness program will provide services to 18 school districts in the state — many with high percentages of Latino students and students from low-income families. 

Students attending these schools will get help filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and assistance with the college application process, in addition to getting the ACT college entrance exam paid for. The cost for the basic assessment is $39.50, with another $17 for the writing portion. 

“We understand and recognize and are very mindful of the fact that there’s a demographic shift happening in our state,” said Paul Luna, president and CEO of Helios, the Arizona Daily Star reports. “The face of Arizona and the face of our schools is changing. Latino students and kids of color now make up the majority of the K-12 education system today, however, we also know that too many Latino students in particular are not performing at the same rate as their white counterparts.”

Latinos make up 30.5 percent of the population of Arizona and just over 44 percent of students enrolled in public schools. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, the state’s dropout rate is one of the highest in the country. Seventy percent of Hispanic students graduate from high school, compared with 84 percent of whites.

The foundation estimates this initiative will affect 145,000 students across 83 schools over the next five years. A portion of the funds will go toward education and student research.