In response to President Barack Obama’s challenge for the United States to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020, Arizona State University (“ASU”) is increasing its student accessibility by expanding its financial aid program to more Arizona families. ASU will honor President Obama by renaming its scholarship program at its commencement ceremony today, May 13. The program will be now be known as the President Barack Obama Scholars Program. Some of the new Barack Obama Scholars will be introduced at graduation.
ASU has expanded qualifying family income level for scholars program to $60,000, increasing the number of students receiving funding for tuition, fees, books, and room and board from 500 to more than 1,600 students!
President Obama is ASU’s commencement speaker and will address his largest crowd in the U.S. since his inauguration. About 71,000 people are expected to brave long lines in 99-degree heat to attend the open-air ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium.
Crews spent the past few days building the stage and setting up signs for the big event. There will be mariachi music, Native American performances and marching bands. Rock icon Alice Cooper will be the opening act.
But for graduates Obama’s speech remains the major draw. Arizona native Alex Linden, 22, an English major, said she’s looking forward to hearing a message of hope.
“President Barack Obama giving my commencement speech seems like the perfect cap to my ASU experience,” Linden said. “I expect his speech, in typical Obama style, to be riveting and full of the ability to spark excitement and a sense of accomplishment.”
Having a sitting president speak at commencement posed significant logistical hurdles for ASU. The frenzy for tickets began as soon as the college announced its speaker in March. Ads for graduation tickets have even appeared on Craigslist and eBay.