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ACT, SAT scores no longer required to apply for scholarships awarded by Southern Utah, Dixie State universities

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SALT LAKE CITY — Earlier this year, several Utah universities made submitting ACT or SAT scores optional for college admission.

Now, at least two Utah System of Higher Education institutions are doing away with the test score requirement for scholarships awarded by institutions themselves.

Earlier this week, Southern Utah University announced it would consider either a student’s unweighted GPA or scores on the ACT or SAT, which gives students the option of applying based on their high school grades or test scores, but eliminates the requirement for both.

For example, to qualify for the President’s Scholarship of $6,006 annually, a student must earn a 4.0 GPA or a 35 or 36 composite score on the ACT (36 is considered a “perfect” score) or score between 1,580 and 1,600 on the SAT. On the SAT, 1,600 is the highest possible score.

Public universities in Utah have used a matrix that considers both factors. The University of Utah, for instance, also considers students’ course rigor as a factor in awarding institutional-based scholarships.

On Wednesday, Dixie State University announced it will award freshman academic scholarships based solely on students’ unweighted high school GPAs.  

“Research has shown that students’ propensity for success in college can be best predicted by their high school GPAs,” said Jay Sorensen, Dixie State’s director of admissions, in a statement.

“By basing scholarship awards only on students’ GPAs, Dixie State can reward students for dedicating themselves to hard work, studying hard and succeeding in classes for four years.” 

The new system aligns with Dixie State’s commitment to offering an open education that widens access and participation by removing barriers, the statement said. 

The new systems for awarding scholarships go into effect for students applying to SUU or Dixie State for the 2021-22 academic year.

Nationally, the SAT and ACT have long been a considered factor in awarding college scholarships, especially merit scholarships not tied to students’ financial need.

When students had fewer testing opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents pushed back against the requirement, forcing some states to push back application windows at public colleges and universities or change their requirements.

For students who attend Utah public schools, the ACT remains part of their high school experience. High school juniors take the test as part of the Utah State Board of Education’s accountability system.

For high school students graduating in 2021, the Utah System of Higher Education’s updated Regents Scholarship requirements include a rigorous course of study, cumulative ACT scores of at least 22, and a 3.3 GPA. Students are also required to complete the free application for federal student aid.