Degrees of success: 2 new Utah laws make finishing college online more affordable

Local News

CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Many Utahns who became unemployed during the pandemic are seeking to resume their careers with even better jobs by finishing their college degrees. Now, two new laws are making it easier for adults to get that long-delayed diploma.

At Southern Utah University, Monday, Governor Spencer Cox signed House Bill 328 and Senate Bill 136, which provide grants and scholarships to adults seeking to complete their degrees online. Rep. Lowry Snow (R – St. George) sponsored H.B. 328.

“What this bill does is provides a path for them to capitalize on that foundation in their education that’s already been laid,” Rep. Snow said Monday during an online panel discussion.

The grants are designed to help students like Israel Sanchez, a 33-year-old working husband and father of two from Washington County, who didn’t know if he’d ever be able to finish his bachelor’s degree.

“I have a family now. I’m 33 years old. How can I afford to do this? How can I find time? Can I go to a campus amidst everything else I was doing?” Sanchez said. “Online learning opened up a lot of doors and removed some of those barriers that allowed me to do homework before I went to work. After I came home.”

According to Western Governors University, 370,000 Utahns have some college but no degree. Many of them are women who paused college to raise children or financially support their husbands’ higher education.

Nina Barnes is the vice chair of the Utah System of Higher Education.

“Life happens. It’s perfectly natural to make that exit, but we also need to make it easier for them to get back on the on-ramp and complete their education,” Barnes said. “Figuring out a way to improve the scholarship funding, make it simpler, make it more accessible to that particular population who really, really needs it is critical.”

As for Sanchez, he plans to get his bachelor’s in business management from WGU and a higher-paying job in 2022.

“So, one year from now I’m planning to graduate with my degree in the Health Care Administration area,” he said. “And I couldn’t be more excited and grateful to finally finish that.”

To learn more about Western Governors University, go to: https://www.wgu.edu/newsroom/press-release/2021/04/higher-ed-briefing.html

To learn more about House Bill 328, go to: https://le.utah.gov/~2021/bills/static/HB0328.html

HB0328 – Home | Utah LegislatureInformation. Last Action: 17 Mar 2021, Governor Signed Last Location: Lieutenant Governor’s office for filingle.utah.gov

To learn more about Senate Bill 136, go to: https://le.utah.gov/~2021/bills/static/SB0136.html

SB0136 – Home | Utah LegislatureDate: Action: Location: Vote: 1/26/2021 : Bill Numbered but not Distributed: Legislative Research and General Counsel: 1/26/2021 : Numbered Bill Publicly Distributedle.utah.gov

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah Coronavirus

More Coronavirus Updates
Inside Utah Politics Logo

Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...

Good Morning Utah

More Good Morning Utah