CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The state Senate has passed a bill that would add career-vocational and fine and performing arts courses to the curriculum requirements in the Hathaway college scholarship program.
House Bill 13 passed on a 29-1 vote Friday and now goes back to the House for consideration of changes made in the Senate.
Resident students at Wyoming colleges can receive up to $3,200 a year from the Hathaway program depending on their high school grades and test scores. Students who take more rigorous high-school math, science, foreign language and language arts classes and get the best grades receive the most money.
Since Wyoming created the scholarship in 2006, some lawmakers have tried to broaden it so that more college-bound students can benefit. But those attempts have met resistance from others who argue it should be directed toward helping students who strive to excel and not made into an entitlement program.
The House version of the bill makes foreign language an optional requirement that can be substituted with career-vocational and fine and performing arts classes.
The Senate version of the bill maintains that in order to earn the most scholarship money, a student must take two years of foreign language classes.
Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said there was a great deal of pressure from supporters of the fine and performing arts and career-vocational course for adding those courses and pressure from others to maintain rigorous requirements.
While the bill may add to the number of overall course credits needed to obtain a scholarship, Coe said students still have flexibility to take other classed not required for the scholarship and they don't have to seek the scholarship at all.
"This is a scholarship program, not an entitlement program," he said. "I think we got the bill right now where we pretty much have made almost everybody happy."
Separately, the House approved a bill that would allow Wyoming community college students to receive Hathaway scholarships for up to four years.
Hathaway money currently is limited to four full-time semesters for students at the state's two-year colleges.
Senate File 1010 would increase eligibility to a maximum of eight full-time semesters.
Supporters of the bill say it would help students who study dental hygiene, radiation or other health sciences that take more than four semesters to complete.