The University of Arizona's retention rate is about 34 percent. That means about one-third of the students who start as freshmen at the university end up graduating in four years.

Students enrolled in the Arizona Assurance program have a higher rate of retention, according to figures from the university. About 60 percent of the freshmen who joined the program to help pay for their college education in 2008 are on track to graduate in 2012.

"I think it's probably one of the most important things we're doing at the University right now," University of Arizona President Eugene Sander says.

The program requires students to work on campus in exchange for some of their tuition. It helped student Elisa Meza, a senior studying English, pay for her undergraduate education.

"I'd be working full time, if not I'd probably be taking semesters off to figure things out," Meza said.