CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The state Senate has passed a bill that would add to the requirements for college-bound students applying for the top tiers of the Hathaway Scholarship.
House Bill 177 passed on a 23-7 vote Tuesday. The measure heads back to the House for consideration of changes made by senators.
The Senate version of the bill would require applicants for the Hathaway honors and performance-level scholarships to take either an additional two years of foreign language or two years of either career and vocational education or fine and performing arts courses.
The House bill doesn't allow the additional two years of foreign language as an option.
The Hathaway Scholarship currently requires a certain number of years of math, science, language arts, social studies and a foreign language.
Thousands of resident students have received money through the program, which is in its seventh year, to help them pay for tuition and fees at the University of Wyoming and the state's seven community colleges.
Currently, eligible students can receive up to $1,600 per semester in scholarship money, depending on their academic achievement. The scholarship cannot be used for out-of-state colleges.
Opponents of the proposal argue high schools students who are seeking the two highest scholarship awards shouldn't be burdened with having to take classes that they might not need or have time for.
"There's not enough time when you make these other requirements," said Sen. Phil Nicholas, R-Laramie.
Advocates of the fine arts and career tech courses have been trying for several years to get the courses included in the scholarship curriculum, arguing such courses are important in the overall development and academic success of students.
But Nicholas contends those advocates are just trying to make those courses "relevant" at the expense of the scholarship curriculum.
He and others argue that students bound for college would be better off with more foreign language, for instance, than two years of band. They also note the new requirements would crimp the busy schedules of student-athletes.
But Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, and other supporters of adding the fine arts and career tech classes said the additional requirements would add rigor to the scholarship curriculum.