Utah Student Association: “College Access Advisor Initiative is a win-win for our state, students, and workforce”

The Utah Student Association, comprised of the student body presidents at Utah’s colleges and universities, and Jakell Larsen, the student regent for the Board of Regents, co-authored a letter of support of the Board of Regents’ college access advising initiative.

The Utah Board of Regents approved a statewide proposal in September 2018 that will provide a permanent, full-time college access advisor for every high school in Utah. The near-peer college access advisor will help students register for and complete college entrance exams, submit college applications, apply for scholarships and financial aid, and connect them to first year experience programs to ensure a smooth transition from high school to college. The proposal is to scale the program statewide, under the direction of the Board of Regents, into every high school in Utah by the school year 2021-2022.

This statewide college access advising program expands the Utah College Advising Corps at the University of Utah, which was initially established in 2007 under a joint grant from the Board of Regents and the University of Utah from the Jack Kent Cook Foundation. The program has been in 12 high schools for over 10 years: 11 high schools in Salt Lake County and one in St. George. Anticipated costs of the statewide program are approximately $7 million, with $5,995,000 coming from state tax funds and $1 million from internal reallocations from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. The Board prioritized $5,995,000 as part of the approved unified budget request in preparation for the 2019 legislative session.

High schools with a college access advisor are anticipated to see the college enrollment rates of their graduates increase 5 to 9 percent.


Dear Senators, Representatives, and members of the community,

As members of the Utah Student Association, we know firsthand that applying for college can be daunting. There are countless steps to take in order to apply, get accepted, and navigate the financial burden of a higher education. The State of Utah and its institutions spend millions of dollars on resources for students to gain a cost-effective and high-quality education; however, we watch many students miss these opportunities due to complexities of access.

Ninety percent of Utah parents expect their children to go to college, but only sixty-six percent of Utah high school graduates end up enrolling within five years. That missing thirty-four percent of students who do not enroll in college often includes first-generation students, minority students, and low-income students—those who would most benefit from a college credential, which is now necessary to enter and progress in the workforce. With this in mind, how do we help these students gain access to the resources the federal government, the state government, and institutions already provide?

The Utah Board of Regents is asking for $6 million ongoing to solve the problem by placing a near-peer college access advisor in every Utah high school. Having this point person will give each high school student access to an expert on educational pathways, financial aid, and scholarships, as well as first-year experience programs and other student recourses. Pilot programs have proven that with every meeting a student has with a college access advisor, the likelihood of college enrollment increases by thirteen percent and college graduation increases by five percent.

We know how impactful these advisors will be to students, and, in turn, how impactful those students will be to the state’s economy with their educational training and skills. The College Access Advisor initiative is a win-win for our state, our students, and our workforce. We ask that you support the Board of Regents’ budget request for the Statewide College Access Advisor Program.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

D’Mia Lamar, USA President, Student Body President | Southern Utah University

Connor Morgan, USA Executive Vice President, Student Body President | University of Utah

Jaren Hunsaker, USA Legislative Vice President, Student Body President | Utah State University

Jordan Slater, Student Body President | Weber State University

Jazmin May, Student Body President | Westminster College

Alyaro Martinez, Student Body President | Salt Lake Community College

Marc Reynolds, Student Body President | Utah Valley University

Simeon Toronto, Student Body President | Brigham Young University

Alexandria Anderson, Student Body President | Utah State University-Eastern

Jared Devey, Student Body President | Snow College

Cajun Syrett, Student Body President | Dixie State University

Jakell Larson, Student Regent | Board of Regents