Report: Utah saw 82% decrease in state need-based financial aid over the last decade

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education released Tuition and Fees in the West 2018-19: Trends and Implications, which discusses the results of the 2018-19 survey of Tuition and Fees in Public Higher Education in the West, as well as recent trends in state fiscal support and state grant aid. This data can also be viewed on an interactive dashboard.

Three key takeaways from the report:

1. Utah saw an 82% decrease in state need-based financial aid over the last decade.

In the West, a higher share of state aid (94%) is based on need, compared to the national average (of 76%), and the region’s average per-student need-based aid ($767) was 23% higher than the national average ($624). Despite this trend, Utah’s state need-based financial aid has decreased 82% in the last ten years, from $63 per full-time student in 2006-07 to just $11 in 2017-18.

In 2019, the Utah legislature passed HB 260, Access Utah Promise Scholarship (Rep. Derrin Owens), which created the first statewide need-based scholarship of its kind in Utah. This scholarship covers the cost of tuition and fees for the first two years of college for qualifying students when federal grants fall short. The Utah Promise Scholarship is patterned after similar programs at Weber State University and Salt Lake Community College: Dream Weber and SLCC Promise.

2. At $6,956, Utah has the second-lowest average tuition and fees for public four-year institutions in the West.

3. Over the last ten years, total state appropriations per full-time student has decreased more than 16%.

Increased demand for higher education over the last decade means that per-student support in the West remains 3.7% below FY 2008 levels. Enrollments have stabilized over the last five years, but most states in the region have more students enrolled in public higher education than FY 2008. This means that in some states, like Utah, total appropriations increased in the aggregate since FY 2008, but per-student funding did not keep pace with increased student enrollments.

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