Legislature increases number of nonresident tuition waiver scholarships

By By Jay Logan Rogers

By Jay Logan Rogers

The State Legislature passed a bill Feb. 10 increasing the number of nonresident tuition waiver scholarships offered in the state’s system of higher education.

House Bill 66, proposed by Rep. Craig Buttars, R-Lewiston, would increase the number of students granted a partial or complete waiver of the nonresident portion of their tuition from 500 to 900 students per year. The statute mandates that scholarships be granted based upon students’ academic merit.

However, only a small fraction of the scholarships are allotted to the U. The Utah State Board of Regents determines how many tuition waivers each public university may grant. Of the 500 currently issued statewide, 220 are given to Utah State to award, compared with a mere 25 available for U students.

Amanda Covington, director of communications for the Board of Regents, said that the scholarships were allocated largely based upon the requests of university presidents.

If the governor does sign HB 66, the Board of Regents will have to determine how many of the 900 waivers to grant to each university.

“There’s nothing that we can surmise about how the distribution will be. Traditionally, those institutions closer to the state borders receive a different allocation than the University of Utah,” said Angela Wimmer, manager of scholarships for the U.

Wimmer speculated that the increased number of spots would probably be allocated in a proportional fashion similar to the way the old number was.

HB 66 was debated on the House floor Jan. 30. Buttars stated that his purpose for the bill was to help Utah State University increase its number of students from the neighboring states of Idaho and Wyoming.

However, nothing in the bill’s text outlines which schools can issue waivers or limits the geographic home of students who receive them.

“Out-of-state students tend to reside on campus, use campus housing and eat on campus,” Buttars said. “The decrease in the number of students attending from Idaho and Wyoming has damaged Utah State University’s revenues.”

Buttars argued that students from rural portions of neighboring states help fill Utah State classes and keep the agricultural programs strong.

When questioned, Buttars said that under his bill, the nonresident tuition waiver scholarships could just as easily be granted to a student from Florida as to one from Wyoming.

Rep. Jeff Alexander, R-Provo, said he wished the bill were strictly a border waiver that limited the scholarships to students from bordering states applying to attend Utah State University.

HB 66 passed the House by a margin of 73 to 1. It passed the State Senate unanimously with little debate on Feb. 10. It awaits the signature of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to become law.

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