Utah Restores State Scholarship

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
August 19, 2009

In a bit of good news for college students facing reduced state scholarship funding throughout the country, a major Utah scholarship which was in danger of being cut will be fully restored.

Legislators announced on Tuesday that the Utah Board of Regents will fully fund the New Century Scholarship, which is expected to be awarded to nearly 1,500 students this coming year. The scholarship covers 75 percent of college tuition in exchange for earning associates degrees while still in high school, and was in danger of being cut back to 40 percent this year and 25 percent in 2010-11.

After hearing that the scholarship would be reduced, Paige Neff, a recent high school graduate, applied for six different jobs to help cover the cost of her room, board and living expenses at Brigham Young University.

"I don't know exactly how I'm going to get that money," she told The Wall Street Journal at the time. "I'm scrambling to find work."

Neff joined a Facebook group to protest the scholarship cut, and was thrilled to hear the news that the scholarship would be restored. "I'm incredibly excited," she told The Salt Lake Tribune. "It was a really scary thing for me, and I really appreciate the decision they made."

Officials emphasized that the Regents' Scholarship Exemplary Awards, which was awarded to 116 students last year, was still in danger of being reduced. But William Sederburg, Utah Higher Education Commissioner, told the Tribune that the award would likely be restored as well, although they are not yet sure where the money will come from.

"I think the exact source of funds--how many new dollars, how many existing dollars--we need to sit down and open up the books and figure out how to do that," he said. "Everything is on the table."

The Board of Regents had decided to cut scholarship funding in July after facing record demand and an 8 percent cut in funding from legislators. But students protested that they had devoted all of high school towards working towards the scholarship, with the understanding that 75 percent of their tuitions would be covered.

State Sen. John Valentine noted that the state may not be able to offer full funding for the scholarship in the future, but lawmakers had objected to cutting funding this year because of the lateness of the decision.

"People did not have a chance to reorganize their lives because the notification was so late," he told the Tribune. "We're keeping commitments."

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