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New Century Saved

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah lawmakers are committing to restore, funding for Utah's New Century and Regent Scholarships, at least for this year.

They've been under increasing pressure from students who would feel the pain if those scholarships were cut. Until this year, college students who qualified received 75 percent tuition breaks.

Plans were to cut the New Century Scholarship to 25 percent. Students receiving the Regent Scholarship would have their scholarships cut to between 40 and 55 percent, depending on their situations.

House Speaker David Clark announced Tuesday during a meeting of the Executive Appropriations Committee that the Board of Regents will begin notifying students currently receiving the scholarship that it will be fully funded this year.

Students, angry over the proposed cuts, have been flooding lawmakers with e-mails. They've even set up a Facebook group called "We're not okay with New Century and Regent Scholarship Cuts!!!"

Organizers also encouraged people to attend Wednesday's Education Interim Committee meeting at the Capitol.

Sen. John Valentine, co-chairman of the Higher Education Interim Subcommittee says the governor's office and lawmakers have agreed to reallocate the $ 1.7 million needed to fund the scholarships for this school year.

The Legislature will further discuss the scholarships' futures in the 2010 General Session.

Valentine points out the statue creating the scholarship sets up tuition breaks of "up to 75 percent" and it's based on available state funds. But he says the real issue was timing. "We were very motivated as a Legislature to come up with a solution because of the lateness of the notice to parents, to students, to the academic world," Valentine said. "We felt like we needed to do it now."

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