The College and Flagstaff were not immune to the effects of the Great Depression. The only bank in town closed its doors in June 1932. ASTC President Grady Gammage recognized, however, that higher education was a "depression industry," one that fared well in hard times. The College provided jobs for more than 400 students. Some students found creative solutions to financial problems. Elsie McCauley bartered sacks of potatoes for tuition; Rolf Larson's Holstein cow, Codera, underwrote his education.
Many significant events occurred during these hard times. In 1937, graduate work at ASTC became possible with the addition of the master of arts in education degree. In 1939, Ida Mae Fredericks became the first Hopi to receive a college degree. Interestingly enough, enrollment at ASTC actually rose during the Depression, from 321 students during the 1929-1930 academic year to 535 by 1940.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and subsequent entry of the United States into World War II precipitated a large drop in enrollment as college-age men entered the armed services. By the 1944-1945 academic year, just 161 students attended class on the Flagstaff campus. Yet ASTC made many contributions toward the war effort. The College served as a site for the Navy's V-12 training program, one of 150 schools selected from among 1600 contenders. The Campus Civilian Defense Program maintained an aircraft spotting post, one of only 84 such posts in the United States. To demonstrate its dedication to rationing programs, ASTC banned all gas-powered vehicles, and those with rubber tires, from the Homecoming Parade in 1942.With the end of the war in 1945, the College again changed names, albeit subtly. The name became simply Arizona State College [ASC] at Flagstaff, because the institution now offered several other degrees besides teaching, most notably in the arts and sciences. Enrollment soon surpassed prewar levels with world-wise, returning veterans adding an interesting twist to campus life.