The Regents’ Scholarship is a state-sponsored scholarship that helps Utah high school students clearly understand the most important classes to prepare for college. Since 2008, with the financial support of the Utah Legislature, more than 17,000 students have received the Regents’ Scholarship, growing 20% annually.
The academic accomplishments of the scholarship recipients are impressive:
- Average high school GPA: 3.9 (2014, 15, 16 cohorts)
- Average ACT: 27
- Average college GPA: Full point above all other students (3.5 vs. 2.5)
- Average course load: 8-10 credits more than all other students (27 vs. 18 credits)
Why Make Changes?
In 2017, the Legislature unanimously passed SB256 – Regents’ Scholarship Amendments (Sen. Hillyard/Rep. McCay) to update the requirements of the scholarship and establish “criteria to determine a student’s eligibility for a Regents’ scholarship, including…address college affordability and access.”
The 6th Annual Report on Intergenerational Poverty published in Summer 2017 recommends “Increased exposure to more high schools students of postsecondary education opportunities beginning in high school. Students living in poverty also receive additional consideration on many scholarship opportunities.”
The Board of Regents, in its 2017 Progress Report of its Strategic Plan 2025, directed the Commissioner’s Office in January 2017 to review the Regents’ Scholarship to ensure it supports the Board’s strategic objective of Affordable Participation. The review found:
- 91% of Regents’ Scholarship recipients received other institutional scholarships.
- In many cases, students received significantly more than their cost of tuition and fees. This is partially due to the scholarship award being given to recipients separately from other state and federal scholarships and aid to students.
- 7.3% of 2016 scholarship recipients that enrolled during 2016-17 were from low-income households (compared to 26.5% of all 2016 high school graduates who were from low-income households).
Changes for High School Class of 2019
Based on those findings, the Commissioner’s Office identified three goals to re-emphasize the scholarship’s college readiness objective:
- Update and maintain an evidence-based standard of academic college readiness for high school students based on a combination of coursework, ACT score, and GPA.
- Efficiently stretch scholarship funding to reward both academic college readiness as well as help recipients facing significant economic barriers to college.
- Increase local control through coordination with participating colleges and universities to leverage more financial aid opportunities and eliminate overpayment.
To achieve those goals, the following proposed changes will be implemented beginning with the high school class of 2019:
- Scholarship award amount will be determined annually based on available funds and applicants. All students who meet requirements will receive an award, which will be coordinated through the student’s college or university to leverage all other financial aid opportunities and simplify the student experience.
- Revise academic requirements using a minimum ACT score, minimum GPA and simplified course requirements – using evidence-based research that demonstrates college-readiness.
- Require applicants to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (applicants are NOT required to be eligible for Pell grants).
The Board of Regents will consider the final revisions to the Regents’ Scholarship at its upcoming meeting on November 17, including the academic requirements. Commissioner’s staff are working with K-12 counselors and administrators to ensure students and parents understand the basis for these changes.
Additional information at StepUpUtah.com.