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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Tenth-grader Sam Morales-Madrid talks with Sambat Kim, a college access adviser with the Utah College Advising Corps, at Hunter High School in West Valley City on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. Morales-Madrid is interested in pursuing a career in aerospace engineering. Utah's System of Higher Education is moving ahead with expansion of the Utah College Advising Corps, even before asking the Utah Legislature for a dime for the initiative.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's System of Higher Education is moving ahead with expansion of the Utah College Advising Corps, even before asking the Utah Legislature for a dime for the initiative.

The program helps high school students make successful transitions to higher education under the guidance of "near peer" college access advisers who work in their high schools.

Commissioner of Higher Education Dave Buhler said $1 million of the projected $7 million ongoing cost of placing a college access adviser in every public high school in Utah will come from a reallocation of existing funds in the Utah System of Higher Education's budget for access and outreach activities.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Sambat Kim, a college access adviser with the Utah College Advising Corps, talks with 10th-grader Sam Morales-Madrid at Hunter High School in West Valley City on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. Morales-Madrid is interested in pursuing a career in aerospace engineering. Utah's System of Higher Education is moving ahead with expansion of the Utah College Advising Corps, even before asking the Utah Legislature for a dime for the initiative.

"If it’s as good of an idea as we all seem to feel it is, why not get started?" said Buhler, addressing the Utah State Board of Regents last week.

Education officials will ask the Utah Legislature for $6 million in ongoing funding in the upcoming session. The goal of the plan is to scale the advising program statewide by the 2021-22 school year.

Presently, there are 12 college access advisers in Utah: 11 in Salt Lake County and one in St. George. The program is headquartered at the University of Utah and the advisers are U. employees. Eventually, the corps would become a systemwide responsibility.

The $1 million in funding would be used to hire at least 20 additional advisers, although higher education officials are still determining at which high schools they would be placed.

"Near peer" advisers are recent college graduates who help students register for and complete college entrance exams, submit college applications, apply for scholarships and financial aid.

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Once high schoolers are admitted to a college or university, the advisers connect them to first-year experience programs to help ensure successful transitions to college.

Students in the 12 schools with college access advisers enrolled in college at a rate of 58 percent, well above the statewide rate of 45 percent, according to Utah System of Higher Education data.

For every meeting with a college access adviser, students are 13 percent more likely to enroll in college, according to agency statistics.