For University of Utah sophomore Jessica Venegas, the For Utah Scholarship has been a game changer.
Venegas entered the U in the fall of 2021—one of the hundreds of first-time students to receive the need-based scholarship, which promises four years of tuition and fees for Pell-eligible Utah residents who maintain a 3.0 GPA. Without that support, Venegas said, she’s not sure where she would be.
“My parents are immigrants, so I would have had to go into a lot of student debt to get my undergraduate degree and struggle with keeping multiple jobs and helping my family as well,” Venegas said. “Getting the opportunity to have this scholarship really changed my life.”
This week, another 900 high school seniors will be offered a For Utah Scholarship at Utah’s flagship institution of higher education. Those who accept will join a growing cohort of For Utah scholars earning degrees in business, engineering, economics and pre-med, among others.
Since its inception in 2020, For Utah has made college accessible to more than 1,600 new college students at the U. For Utah is a “last dollar” program, which covers Utah students’ tuition and fees not already covered by federal Pell grants or other scholarships.
The investment made in the education of students like Venegas is an investment in the future of the community at large, said Steve Robinson, senior associate vice president of enrollment management.
“The For Utah Scholarship has delivered on the commitment we made to students across the state three years ago,” he said. “Students and their families who have worried about paying for college have a great option at the University of Utah with this scholarship. The impact of this opportunity will extend beyond these individuals to our state as a whole.”
Receiving the scholarship has not only helped Venegas dedicate more time to her studies but it’s also allowed her to do things like join the university’s spirit team and go to the Rose Bowl.
“I have the opportunity to really get that college life I always imagined,” she said. “I feel like that wouldn’t have been possible without the scholarship.”
When Venegas finishes her undergraduate degree, her plan is to go to medical school and become a cardiothoracic surgeon.
In 2020, the first cohort of For Utah scholars, 872 in all, received the scholarship. The next fall, 77% retained the scholarship. In 2021, 75% of students offered the scholarship, just over 600, accepted and enrolled at the U.
Attending the U and studying atmospheric science is a dream come true for Sadie Dunn, who fell in love with extreme weather as a child. When deciding where she wanted to go to college, Dunn was surprised to learn the University of Utah is the only school in Utah that offers an atmospheric science degree.
“The For Utah Scholarship has been an amazing opportunity for me because honestly, I would not have been able to afford college on my own,” Dunn said. “This scholarship offered me the amazing opportunity to come and study here in the department I want to be in.”
Dunn is a junior and is still figuring out what she would like to do when she graduates. Because of her interest in severe weather, she would love to have a career where she can help people impacted by disasters.
This unique University of Utah scholarship will continue to provide both merit- and need-based aid to students at the U for years to come.