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Utah board votes to remove fees at public colleges, universities for in-state applicants

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A student walks past the U on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on July 25. The Utah Board of Higher Education voted Friday to eliminate fees for in-state residents applying to enter colleges and universities across the state.

Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

The cost of attending higher education dropped a bit Friday, as the Utah Board of Higher Education voted to eliminate fees for in-state residents applying to enter colleges and universities across the state.

The measure, approved unanimously, aims to make higher education more affordable for Utah K-12 students, helping them gain new opportunities for education and economic mobility, board officials explained. The change goes into effect "moving forward."

Cydni Tetro, a board member, explained that providing as many students a better access to higher education was "at the heart of this decision."

"Eliminating application fees for USHE colleges is a tremendous step forward in ensuring access and opportunity," she said in a statement after the vote.

Application fees at Utah's public universities vary from school to school, with most ranging from $20 to $55, based on what colleges and universities list online. These costs can add up when a student applies to multiple universities.

Some Utah universities have already looked at amending this. The University of Utah introduced a plan last year to waive application fees for first-year students with addresses in Utah. Officials said it could remove a potential barrier for students applying to get it. Southern Utah University also lists online that it doesn't charge application fees for U.S. residents.

The vote opens the door for all universities to uniformly agree on waiving application fees for in-state residents.

"We appreciate the leadership of the board to remove barriers for our students as they apply to pursue their education. We've seen the positive impact it has for increasing opportunities for students to pursue their dreams," said Brad Mortensen, president of Weber State University.

Board officials added Friday that they will look at "various sources of one-time bridge funding" to cover any near-term revenue losses from cutting application fees. They said they will also work on an "ongoing funding proposal" to cover other future losses.