The requirement was originally imposed to ensure that illegal aliens did not receive taxpayer funded scholarships; however, that safeguard is now on the verge of being eliminated.
Senator Evan Vickers supported the change because two of his constituents were denied scholarships after failing to submit birth certificates required for verification of legal status.
During public testimony, it was pointed out that all high school students, including the worst performers, are able to fully comply with the much more onerous requirements for proving legal residence when applying for a Utah driver’s license. If was also argued that top performing students should be able to comply with minimal application standards.
However, the panel agreed with the Utah Office of Higher Education that it was too onerous for top performing students to provide a birth certificate with their applications. In the future, applicants will simply certify that they are lawfully in the United States.
Following the vote, Senator Vickers told Commissioner of Higher Education, Dave Buhler, that since his office had requested the change, it would be responsible for ensuring that no illegal aliens received scholarships. He also advised Buhler that if illegal aliens did receive Regents' or New Century Scholarships that it would create serious problems.
The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.