High school students might soon have to cough up some cash to take concurrent enrollment classes as part of a possible change that lawmakers hope will keep the program strong.
The Senate Education Committee voted unanimously on Wednesday in favor of SB162, which modifies a law passed last year allowing colleges to charge high school students to take concurrent enrollment classes for college credit. Though last year's bill became law, it was never actually implemented because the number of exemptions to students having to pay fees made administration of the law overly difficult, said sponsor Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George.
This year's bill, SB162, seeks to correct that by narrowing the number of exemptions so colleges can actually start charging fees.
As in last year's bill, colleges would be allowed to charge high school students up to $30 per credit hour. They would only be allowed to charge $5, however, if the 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, were part of the old bill but not the new one.
Urquhart said the changes are necessary to keep the concurrent enrollment program strong. He said it would great if colleges didn't have to charge students any money, "but you see our colleges paring down offerings because they're losing money on it."
"Obviously, the point of this is to further and enhance concurrent enrollment not to harm it in any way," Urquhart said.
The committee approved the bill Wednesday without much debate though some speakers expressed concern.
Tom Nedreberg, vice president of the Utah Education Association (UEA), said he supports concurrent enrollment and just hopes the fees don't prohibit any students from participating in the program.
The bill now moves to the Senate floor.