A bill aimed at raising the bar for state-funded college scholarships floundered in the Utah Senate Thursday amid debate over the International Baccalaureate program.
SB100 requires college students with Regents' or New Century scholarships to maintain a 3.3 GPA rather than a 3.0 and a course load of 15 credit hours, bumped up from 12 hours.
The bill also allows the Board of Regents to give additional weight to high school I.B. classes in choosing who gets the scholarships, a move Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem questioned.
"Would it be appropriate to put I.B. in there, even though it's a private organization?" she said. "We don't normally put organizations in code that we did not establish."
Seven high schools in Utah host the rigorous course of study, which is run by a nonprofit based in Switzerland and designed to prepare students for college and careers in the global economy. Dayton has previously called the program "anti-American," though she later apologized.
"There is no additional or no preference to I.B., other than it equates it with our concurrent [college] enrollment and AP [Advance Placement] programs that are running in our schools," said bill sponsor Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton. AP is run by a New York-based nonprofit organization, The College Board.
The Senate initially voted to strike the I.B. portion of the bill, then passed it 27-1 with one absence. But moments later, Stevenson reappeared to ask for the bill to be circled and kept in the Senate, citing "technical issues."
No immediate time was set for reconsidering the bill, which was also amended Thursday to spell out how students certify they are U.S. citizens or legal residents.
The Utah Board of Regents awarded 347 New Century scholarships last year, which provided $1,250 per semester, and 1,348 Regents' Scholarships, which provided $900 per semester after a $1,000 one-time payment.