SALT LAKE CITY — Out-of-state college students in Utah could get a tuition break thanks to the LDS Church allowing men and women to serve missions at younger ages.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' decision to lower the age for missionary service will cause enrollment to drop in the state's colleges and universities for at least two years, said Sen. Stephen Urquhart, R-St. George.
To fill that void, Urquhart proposes that schools be allowed to waive all or part of the difference between resident and nonresident tuition for "meritorious" students. SB51 defines that as students having college entrance exam scores and grade-point averages above the average for that particular school.
Utah State University anticipates losing $19 million as a result of lower enrollment, Urquhart said.
The tuition break would compensate for the loss and improve the caliber of students Utah colleges could attract, he said. Urquhart also suggested the state's tourism department advertise the offer outside Utah.
Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, said those LDS missionaries will return and schools could have the opposite problem in two years.
"I wish that was a problem to worry about," Urquhart replied, noting that university completion rates are dropping.
The LDS Church lowered the age of missionary service to 18 for men and 19 for women in October.