Board of Higher Education plans $8.5m for student success, supports FAFSA completion

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System FAFSA Help Initiative and endowment funds to support students affected by FAFSA delays, issues

At its meeting on June 6, 2024, the Utah Board of Higher Education approved a spending policy for annual proceeds made available from the approximately $300 million Higher Education Student Success Endowment. For Fiscal Year 2025, roughly $8.5 million in new funding is estimated for disbursement. The approval is especially critical this year to support students affected by delays and issues stemming from the national rollout of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Many students depend on FAFSA funds to attend college, and this new allocation by the Board will help to alleviate concerns students may have about attending in the fall.

“Given the impact of the delays in implementing the new FAFSA form, the Board’s action to immediately provide additional funding will significantly benefit students in need now,” said President of Weber State University Brad Mortensen. “At Weber State University, these funds have the potential to benefit thousands of our students who struggle to pay for college and reap the benefits of a college education.” 

“The FAFSA delays and issues are a national emergency, creating barriers for the neediest of Utah students,” said Javier Chavez Jr., Utah Board of Higher Education member. “We took immediate action to break down those barriers and support our students.”

“We are appreciative of the Board’s swift action to address the challenges posed by the FAFSA delays,” said Southern Utah University President Mindy Benson. “This funding will make a significant difference for our students, ensuring they have the financial support needed to continue their education without interruption. It demonstrates our collective commitment to student success and accessibility.”

The Board intends to allow for 10% of annual endowment disbursements to be used for Board-specific initiatives, including supporting existing state aid programs. The remaining 90% will be allocated to USHE institutions, with 90% going to degree-granting institutions and 10% to technical colleges to supplement the following programs:

  • Utah Promise Grant
  • Talent Development Grant (degree-granting institutions)
  • Technical Education Scholarship (institutions with technical education programs)
  • One Utah Service Fellowship (created by S.B. 206, 2024)

“We are excited for the opportunity to put these endowment funds to work for Utah students,” said Steve Neeleman, Utah Board of Higher Education vice chair. “Reinvesting in our students will provide many individuals with the essential resources to help them achieve their educational goals. By supporting key programs, we can address the unique needs of each public Utah college and ensure that all students have the opportunity to thrive and succeed at college.”

These endowment funds will perennially advance strategic priorities and student success across the Utah System of Higher Education in perpetuity. Institutions may also request to use their endowment allocation to support alternative state aid programs or other uses consistent with statutory guidelines based on their unique needs.

Utah’s Higher Education Student Success Endowment was established in the 2022 General Session following the state’s exit from the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority student loan guaranty program through S.B. 172, Higher Education Student Assistance Amendments. As established in Utah Code 53B-7-802(6)(a), these funds may be used to advance priorities within the Utah System of Higher Education and support prospective or current students enrolled at a Utah public college or university. 

Additionally, the Utah System of Higher Education is expanding its outreach to students and families through its FAFSA Help Initiative, providing support for completing their FAFSA applications. Utahns can visit the two dedicated websites below for assistance. 

See the Utah Board of Higher Education meeting materials for more detailed information.

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