The predecessor to the Commission was formed by executive order and for a time, was part of the Arizona Board of Regents. The Commission for Postsecondary Commission was established as a statutory entity in 1994. Statutory authority is found at A.R.S. §§15-1851 through 15-1856.
The Commission reviews public and private postsecondary education institutions to determine their eligibility for student financial monies; administers federal and state student financial assistance programs; provides a forum for public and private postsecondary institutions to discuss issues of mutual interest; coordinates studies of interest to postsecondary institutions; and provides information to the public on postsecondary education opportunities in Arizona. (Laws 2019, Chapter 13, Purpose clause).
The Commission consists of the executive director of the Arizona Board of Regents, the executive director of the State Board of Private Postsecondary Education and 14 members appointed by the Governor. Appointed members serve four-year terms.
The Commission is authorized to administer a number of student financial assistance programs including the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership program, the Paul Douglas Teacher Scholarships Program, the Private Postsecondary Education Grant Program, and the Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program.
Arizona’s College Savings Plan is sponsored by the state and administered by the Commission. This plan provides certain tax benefits to residents who establish a savings account designated for college expenses. These plans, also known as 529 plans, are named after a section of the federal income tax code, and are sponsored by a number of states in partnership with financial institutions.
Governor Fannin designated the Arizona Board of Regents and the State College of Arizona as the Arizona State Commission for purposes of the Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963 (P.L. 88-204). This designation was in place from 1964 to 1966. In 1966, an emergency rule was adopted changing the name to the Arizona Commission for Higher Education, which existed until 1974.
In 1974, Governor Williams established the Arizona Commission for Post Secondary Education by executive order to develop comprehensive inventories and conduct studies regarding public and private postsecondary educational resources in Arizona. The Commission consisted of 14 members, appointed by the Governor to three-year terms. The 1974 Executive Order also transferred duties previously assigned to the Arizona Commission for Higher Education, including programs related to the Federal Higher Education Act of 1965. (See Executive Order 74-5)
In 1977, Governor Castro placed the Commission under the general supervision of the Arizona Board of Regents. (See Executive Order 77-7) In 1988, Governor Mofford issued an executive order establishing the Commission as an advisory council under the general supervision of the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR); modified Commission responsibilities; designated ABOR as the administrator for federal and state student financial assistance programs; and updated references to the Federal Higher Education Act of 1965. (See Executive Order 88-23)
In 1991, Governor Symington placed the Commission under the general supervision of the Governor, rather than ABOR, and transferred responsibility for administration of related federal programs to the Commission. (See Executive Order 91-13) Two years later, in response to federal requirements for each state to designate a state postsecondary review entity responsible for conducting institutional eligibility reviews, Governor Symington amended EO 91-13, continuing the Commission until December 31, 1994, “unless superseded by state legislation” thereby setting the stage for legislative establishment of an independent state agency. (See Executive Order 93-22)
The Commission for Postsecondary Education was established legislatively in 1994.
Laws 1994, Chapter 298 established a 16-member Commission, outlined its powers and duties, and created the Postsecondary Education Fund. The purpose of the Commission was to “supervise, coordinate and review postsecondary education institutions to determine eligibility of those programs for federal student financial aid monies.”
Laws 1996, Chapter 354 modified Commission duties to allow the establishment of policy centers, to require studies of enrollment demand and to require coordination of curriculum and capital plans of public and private higher education institutions.
Laws 1998, Chapter 235 modified the responsibilities of the Commission, revised provisions regarding administration of the Postsecondary Education Fund and the Private Postsecondary Education Student Financial Assistance Program, and required the Commission to provide quarterly financial reports to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. The measure also renamed the Postsecondary Education Voucher Pilot Program as the Private Postsecondary Education Student Financial Assistance Program.
Laws 1999, Chapter 21 renamed the State Student Incentive Grant program as the Leveraging Education Assistance Partnership (LEAP) in response to reauthorization of the federal Higher Education Act.
Laws 2003, Chapter 187 added a representative of an Arizona charter school to the Commission, increasing total membership to 17.
Laws 2004, Chapter 336 removed the representative of the State Board of Directors for Community Colleges from the Commission, changing the total membership to 16.
Laws 2006, Chapter 352 established the Postsecondary Education Grant Program, administered by the Commission, for students enrolled at a private baccalaureate degree granting institution. The program had a termination date of 2016. The measure included an appropriation of $5 million from the state general fund in fiscal year 2006-2007 for the Program. (See also Laws 2017, Chapter 243.)
Laws 2007, Chapter 280 modified eligibility requirements for the Postsecondary Education Grant Program.
Laws 2008, Chapter 287, the budget reconciliation bill for education, modified eligibility requirements for financial assistance programs administered by the Commission and included sunset continuation language to continue the Commission until 2010.
Laws 2010, Chapter 332 required the Commission to administer the Mathematics, Science and Special Education Teacher Student Loan Program. In 2017, the program was renamed the Arizona Teacher Student Loan Program by Laws 2017, Chapter 244.
Laws 2011, Chapter 83 eliminated the requirement for the Commission to provide quarterly reports on fund deposits and expenditures to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
Laws 2017, Chapter 243 established the Private Postsecondary Education Grant Program, administered by the Commission, prescribed uses of the grant monies, outlined eligibility requirements, listed conditions that would trigger reimbursement, and established a termination date of July 1, 2027. The measure repealed and rewrote A.R.S. §15-1855.
Laws 2019, Chapter 13 eliminated Commission authority to conduct investigations, hold hearings, determine methods of enforcement, issue subpoenas, administer oaths, take testimony and receive exhibits into evidence. These changes were made in response to recommendations contained in the Commission’s 2017 performance audit (Auditor General Report 17-113, Sunset Factor 9, page 31). The measure also continued the Commission until July 1, 2027.
- Arizona Revised Statues §§15-1851 et seq.
- Arizona Administrative Code §§R7-3-101 et seq.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1994, Chapter 298
- Laws 1996, Chapter 354
- Laws 1998, Chapter 235
- Laws 1999, Chapter 21
- Laws 2003, Chapter 187
- Laws 2004, Chapter 336
- Laws 2007, Chapter 280
- Laws 2008, Chapter 287
- Laws 2010, Chapter 332
- Laws 2011, Chapter 248
- Laws 2017, Chapter 243 and Chapter 244
Executive Orders: EO 74-5; EO 76-5; EO 77-7; EO 88-23; EO 91-13; EO 93-22.
Arizona Auditor General Performance Audit: Commission for Postsecondary Education, November 1997. Report No. 97-19.
Arizona Auditor General Performance Audit and Sunset Review: Commission for Postsecondary Education, October 2007. Report No. 07-09.
Arizona Auditor General Performance Audit and Sunset Review: Commission for Postsecondary Education, December 2017. Report No. 17-113.
Arizona Documents Classification System, 1993. Compiled by Elsa Black and Carl Cross, Page 80.
Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education website