Blog: Utah House to vote on college tuition changes

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The Utah House of Representatives is considering a bill that would allow state university and college presidents to waive the out-of-state portion of tuition for high-achieving students. This measure would counteract a recent revenue gap created by the lowered missionary age.

The decrease in missionary age increased the amount of eligible young men and women. (AP Photo)

In the October 2012 General Conference the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that the mission age was lowered from 19 to 18 for men and from 21 to 19 for women.  The change caused prospective Mormon missionaries to reconsider their futures. Men can now serve right after high school and women can serve at the beginning of their education instead of at the end.

Brady McCombs of the Associated Press reported that before the announcement, young women missionary applications were around 15 percent. Many Mormon women are married before age 21 and therefore ineligible to serve. Now around half of all missionary applications are women.

This change impacted enrollment at schools with a high percentage of Mormon students. According to the AP report, Brigham Young University enrollment is down 4 percent, Dixie State College 3 percent and Weber State 2 percent.

These drops will impact schools around the state over the next 2 1/2 years. Weber State predicts it will lose $18 million and Utah Valley University between $14 and $19 million.
One school considering this tuition change is Utah State in Logan, Utah. It reports one of the largest predicted losses at 7 percent, or about $9.5 million. Current resident tuition is about half of non-resident tuition, depending on credit hours and housing situation.
The tuition drop would fill the revenue gap as well as encourage the brightest students around the country to attend Utah schools.
This change would likely be short term. In two years, enrollment is predicted to double with the return of the young men and women.

The Senate passed the bill in an unanimous vote in early February and the House plans to vote on Monday, Feb. 25.

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