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Federal cuts result in loss of scholarship money for Utah students

By Nkoyo Iyamba | Posted - Jul. 15, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Some college students who won a scholarship for school this year won't be receiving that money. It's all part of the continuing budget crisis facing the nation.

The Robert C. Byrd Scholarship is the only federally-funded scholarship based on academic merit for high school students who show exceptional promise for college. About 250 Utah students were counting on that money, but many are just now learning it's no longer available.


While many of these programs are well intentioned, and there is no question that many scholarship programs are, the reality is that the federal government simply doesn't have the money.

–Rep. Rob Bishop


"Right now I'm kind of thinking about it and that's $1,500 that I can't rely on," said Utah State University engineering student Mitch Dabling. "Now I'm going to have to re-budget myself and try to figure out how I'm going to pay for my housing because that's what I usually use that money for."

Dabling received the Byrd Scholarship for the last two years.

Utah State University sophomore Mitch Dabling is among the Utah students who recently learned he won't be receiving any money from his Robert C. Byrd Scholarship.
Utah State University sophomore Mitch Dabling is among the Utah students who recently learned he won't be receiving any money from his Robert C. Byrd Scholarship.

"It's only $1,500, but for a student where we have to pay tuition which is thousands of dollars," he said. "I make $8.50 an hour and I work full time and part time through the school year to be able to pay for books, fees and everything, which continues to go up."

Brenda Hales with the Utah State Office of Education said they learned the scholarship money was gone at the end of June. Now officials are focusing on spreading the bad news to recipients.

"We feel bad for these students who have been counting on the funds," Hales said. "Their applications remind them that they have to renew annually and it's always subject to available funding."


I make $8.50 an hour and I work full time and part time through the school year to be able to pay for books, fees and everything, which continues to go up.

–Mitch Dabling


The bill to defund the Byrd Scholarship was part of the Continuing Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2011 to keep the government from shutting down. Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Utah Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch all voted against the budget, which would cut the scholarship program.

Utah Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jim Matheson voted for the cuts.

"Many worthy programs, such as this particular scholarship program, were reduced as part of that shared sacrifice," Matheson said in a statement.

Bishop's office issued this response: "While many of these programs are well intentioned, and there is no question that many scholarship programs are, the reality is that the federal government simply doesn't have the money."

Officials with the State Office of Education say there was leftover money from last year, which will provide funds for 174 of the Byrd Scholarship winners -- all of them high school students.

Email:niyamba@ksl.com

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