By Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange

 

CHEYENNE — State legislators on the Joint Education Interim Committee turned down a bill Thursday that would have let college students receive more Hathaway Scholarship money if they reached certain GPA benchmarks.

The bill, which failed by a 8-5 vote during the committee’s meeting in Cheyenne, would have given students the ability to boost their scholarship funding if the student maintains a 3.75 GPA for two consecutive semesters. The Hathaway Scholarship program can be used at the University of Wyoming or any community college in the state. Though some thought the bill was well-intentioned, legislators worried GPA-based incentives would be unfair to students earning certain degrees. Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, said he had a bit of heartburn over the proposed legislation.

“Everything that will dictate a student’s ability to do this is almost predicated on what she majors in or what instructor she ends up with,” Landen said. “It’s just really not an equal playing surface out there, and that kind of bothers me.”

Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, who teaches in the College of Engineering and the Honors College at the University of Wyoming, shared Landen’s concern.

“I fundamentally grade differently in those two places,” Rothfuss said. “The philosophy is different, the expectations are different and the grades that I’m going to put down end up being different.”

The bill would have increased the amount given out through the scholarships by about $3.6 million annually, according to Legislative Service Office estimates.