Gov. Nixon proposes expanded opportunity for state A+ scholarships

January 21, 2011
Legislation would create equal opportunity for students who meet performance requirements, but are ineligible because they attend undesignated public schools
Kansas City, MO

Gov. Jay Nixon today called on the General Assembly to pass legislation expanding access to state A+ scholarships for low-income students who meets the program's eligibility criteria, but who have been ineligible in the past because they attend public high schools that do not hold the state A+ designation, including public high schools in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

"Every good student in Missouri deserves the opportunity to go to college - whether they live in Kansas City or St. Louis, or in a rural county," Gov. Nixon said. "For too long, too many excellent Missouri high school students have been unable to get A+ scholarships - through no fault of their own - simply because their schools weren't designated as A+ schools. That's just not fair. And it needs to change."

For eligible students, Missouri A+ scholarships cover the cost of tuition and fees for two years at public community colleges or technical schools. To be eligible for an A+ scholarship, students must earn a 2.5 GPA, have a 95 percent attendance rate, perform 50 hours of tutoring or mentoring, and maintain a record of good conduct. Since 1997, more than 50,000 Missouri students have received an A+ scholarship.

Under current law, students also must graduate from a designated A+ high school to be eligible for an A+ scholarship. More than 300 public Missouri high schools have earned the A+ designation, but many schools have not yet done so, especially in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas. Gov. Nixon's proposal would provide A+ scholarships to low-income students who meet all of the program's performance criteria, but who attend a public school that has not earned the A+ designation.

Several public high schools in the Kansas City area have earned the A+ designation, including Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, Paseo Academy of Performing Arts and East High School. Other schools, however, either have not begun the multi-year application process, or will not complete that process for several more years.

"It's simply not fair to penalize good students because their school hasn't earned the A+ designation," Gov. Nixon said. "Missouri students deserve equal opportunity, no matter what public high school they attend. This proposal would provide that opportunity to deserving students with financial need."

The Governor's proposal would expand the scholarships to students whose families have an adjusted annual gross income of up to approximately $55,000. The Governor's budget for Fiscal Year 2012 includes $1 million to fund the expansion, which would provide scholarships for more than 700 additional students. Funding for the expansion would come from the Department of Higher Education's Guaranty Agency Operating Fund.

State Rep. Mike Thompson (R-Maryville) has filed legislation to authorize this expansion.

Gov. Nixon detailed this proposal during a visit today to the Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley Health Science Institute.