Missouri A+ funding might be reduced following budget restrictions

The program grants high school students two years of funding at a community college.

Following a series of budget restrictions imposed for fiscal year 2015 in the state of Missouri, the A+ Scholarship Program, an extension of the Department of Higher Education, may lack sufficient funds to aid all eligible students for the 2014-2015 academic year.

According to the Missouri Department of Higher Education, in order to be considered eligible for the A+ Scholarship program, students must attend a designated A+ high school for a minimum of three years, graduate with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale, attain at least 95 percent attendance for grades nine through 12, maintain good citizenship and demonstrate proficiency in Algebra 1 coursework.

The A+ Scholarship Program functions to grant eligible high school graduates reimbursement funding to cover the cost of tuition — excluding textbooks and program-specific fees — through two years of public or select private community, technical or vocational colleges.

As a result of the budget reduction, students who are eligible for the A+ Scholarship Program could potentially see a reduction in the number of credit hours paid for by the program for the spring 2015 semester, said Liz Coleman, MDHE director of communications and marketing

The Missouri Department of Higher Education may find it necessary to reduce reimbursement for tuition and fees by a maximum of four credit hours, Coleman said.

“The department won’t know the exact number of hours until later this year or early next year,” Coleman said. “The reduction will depend primarily on two factors: the number of students receiving reimbursement for the summer 2014 semester and the fall 2014 semester and whether or not current state budget restrictions are lifted, which would provide additional funding for the program.”

Though the funding situation for the A+ Program is uncertain, any decrease in funding or potential reduction in credit hour coverage should not cause much conflict for students, Ozarks Technical Community College representative Austen Lockhart said.

“(The A+ Scholarship Program) basically acts as a cushion for a lot of students,” Lockhart said. “If you can make the requirements in high school and get accepted, it is something that puts students at ease. However, I have not received complaints of funding cuts affecting anyone too majorly. For most people, A+ is just that cushion, it’s not everything.”

Despite budget restrictions, the number of students receiving the A+ scholarship is expected to grow approximately three percent and aid an estimated 15,000 students during the 2014-2015 academic year, Coleman said.

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