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Utah boasts a healthy system of higher education that offers a wide variety of programs for students in many fields. Through both private and public schools, Utah higher education is both affordable and crucial for job growth in the state.

Utah's comprehensive system of higher education includes the eight public, nonprofit colleges and universities in the state: two research universities, the University of Utah and Utah State University, four regional universities: Weber State University, Southern Utah University, Dixie State University and Utah Valley University; and two community colleges: Salt Lake Community College and Snow College.

"We are focused on increasing participation and completion in the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE)," says Utah Commissioner of Higher Education David L. Buhler. "As more and more of today's jobs demand a certificate or college degree, we are working to ensure that all Utahns have access to a high quality and affordable postsecondary education."

USHE is working on multiple initiatives to increase college success and graduation rates, and also work with K-12 partners to improve college preparation for Utah.

Utah college application week

An example of this is Utah College Application Week. More than 20,000 Utah high school seniors in 49 high schools throughout Utah are given the opportunity to apply for college during the school day, with a special emphasis placed on low-income and first-generation students. Utah College Application Week will continue expanding each year to provide statewide support for students. Pam Jacobsen, a counselor at Roy High School, says, "Utah College Application Week has provided seniors with the support and structure they need to begin and complete the college application process. Attending college is now an attainable dream for many seniors who never dared to dream big!"

regents' scholarship

USHE also administers the Regents' Scholarship, a statewide merit-based scholarship that encourages a college-prep course of study. The Regents' Scholarship has seen 54 percent average year-over-year growth since its inception in 2008. As a sister program to the Regents' Scholarship, Utah Scholars delivers the college-prep message to classrooms via business volunteers to more than 29,000 eighth graders in 133 junior high schools.

concurrent enrollment

One key program that continues to grow is concurrent enrollment. Last year, more than 27,000 Utah high school juniors and seniors earned college credit from USHE institutions. By taking concurrent enrollment courses while in high school, these students saved $27 million in college tuition they would have paid as traditional college students.

fifteen to finish campaign

A recent effort to increase affordability and degree completion is the Fifteen to Finish campaign. In order for students to finish an undergraduate degree in four years, they must take at least 15 credit hours a semester, one more class than the 12 credits defined as "fulltime." By taking the full load, students not only graduate on time, but often save money on tuition since seven of the eight Utah public institutions charge the same tuition for 15 credits as they do for 12.

of interest: Utah's higher ed

STUDENTS IN THE UTAH SYSTEM OF HIGHER EDUCATION

* Eight public colleges and universities

* 167,317 students enrolled in Fall 2014 (more than 75 percent of all college students in Utah)

* 32,491 credentials awarded in spring 2014 (about 75 percent of all credentials)

* Enrollment projected to increase by 51,000 students in the next 10 years

TUITION AND STUDENT DEBT IN UTAH

* Third lowest four-year tuition in the nation

* Third lowest student debt as percent of the cost of living

* Second in number of degrees awarded per $100,000 spent

* Of those who borrow, average student debt ($22,418) is lower than national average ($29,400)

* In 2014, the Utah Educational Savings Plan received Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold for the fourth consecutive year

IMPORTANCE OF A COLLEGE EDUCATION

* College grads earn $830,000 more over a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma

* College grads are three times less likely to be unemployed and four times less likely to live in poverty than those with only a high school diploma

* In 2013, the unemployment rate of a Utahn with only a high school diploma was 12 percent, while for a Utahn with a bachelor's degree, it was 2 percent

SOURCE: Utah System of Higher Education
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Title Annotation:learn: HIGHER EDUCATION
Publication:Utah Business
Date:Jul 1, 2015
Words:708
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