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Senate passes concurrent enrollment bill

Published: Tuesday, March 6 2012 11:55 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would charge high school students for concurrent enrollment credit came one step closer to becoming law Tuesday after being passed with amendments by the Utah Senate.

Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George, sponsored SB284, which would permit charging students up to $30 per credit hour for college credit earned through concurrent enrollment courses. Students who qualify for free and reduced lunch would be exempt from the fee, as would credits earned from technology-intensive concurrent enrollment, or TICE, courses.

Urquhart introduced an additional amendment to the bill Tuesday that would require the per-credit fee established by the Board of Regents to be approved by the legislative executive appropriations committee. The amendment would also provide for a discounted fee for students that take multiple concurrent enrollment classes.

"This will deal with the six charter schools that the governor instituted, where the students are basically enrolled at college," he said.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, asked if some form of scholarship, similar to university Pell Grants, might be made available to students.

Urquhart said a grant would be allowed in the language of the bill, but added that Pell Grants are a federal program and speculated that a grant may not be the most appropriate form of aid since high school students living at home do not deal with the range of costs that traditional college students do.

Prior to the vote, Urquhart emphasized that the bill is defined broadly to allow the Board of Regents to collaborate with the State Office of Education in best serving students and colleges. He asked his fellow senators to keep their eyes and ears open after the vote for ways to improve the concurrent enrollment program.

"The intent is not to harm or diminish concurrent enrollment in any way," he said. "Quite the contrary, the concern is that if we don't fund concurrent enrollment better, then the offerings could diminish."

The bill passed 25-3 and will go before the House for consideration.

Benjamin Wood

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