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Utah high school students will likely soon have to pay to take concurrent enrollment classes for real this time.
The full Legislature has passed SB162, which would modify a law passed last year that allowed colleges to charge high school students who take concurrent enrollment classes to earn college credit. That law was never implemented because the number of exemptions made it overly difficult to administer, said sponsor Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George.
SB162 narrows the number of exemptions. As in last year's bill, colleges could charge high school students up to $30 per credit hour. But they would only be allowed to charge $5 if a student qualifies for free or reduced price lunch at school; $10 if the course is taught by a high school instructor at a high school; and $15 if the course is taught through video conferencing.
Other exceptions, such as waiving fees for technology-intensive or gateway career courses, and reducing fees for students taking multiple concurrent enrollment courses, were in the old bill but not the new one.
Urquhart has said the changes are necessary to keep the program strong, because colleges might otherwise start paring down concurrent enrollment offerings.
The Senate passed the bill 26-2 earlier this month, and the House passed it on Thursday, with changes, by 69-1. On Friday, the Senate unanimously agreed to the changes and it now goes to the governor for his signature.
House bill sponsor Rep. Don Ipson, R-St. George, responded to some lawmakers' concerns Thursday about charging teens.
"It's a simple matter that higher education can no longer afford to provide concurrent enrollment for students to take up seat time in the schools and not pay for it," Ipson said.
Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, called it a "compromise" and a "bitter pill to swallow."
Still, Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, said the relatively small fees are still "a steal." Gibson added: "This is one of the necessary evils that have to happen,but the prices are still very, very cheap to a high school student."