Opportunities to advocate for policies that support students with financial need
St. Louis Graduates' Advocacy Committee takes positions on policy proposals that affect low-income and first-generation students. For more information on the committee's decision-making process, click here.
Following are 2014 policies of interest:
Access Missouri is the state's primary need-based financial aid program. To qualify, students must, among other requirements, have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $12,000 or less. The amount of the Access Missouri award varies, based upon the number of students eligible annually and the total budget. Authorizing legislation does allow for greater awards to those with lower EFCs. Funding for Access Missouri has remained flat in recent years at about $62 million. Gov. Jay Nixon has proposed an FY2015 increase of $8.6 million which would take the total budget to about $70 million. While an increase, this is about two-thirds of the total funding available through Access Missouri in 2009. With the economic downturn, demand for Access Missouri funding has gone up. As a result, average grant awards have shrunk.
St. Louis Graduates supports increased funding of Access Missouri.
UPDATE March 27th: Missouri House passed its version of the 2015 state budget which includes a much needed $20 million increase for Access Missouri. Thanks to Representative Rick Stream, chair of the Missouri House Budget Committee, who proposed the increase. The budget now goes to the Senate.
Bright Flight Boost Proposal
A proposal before the Missouri Legislature purports to keep the “best and brightest” in the state. The Bright Flight Boost proposal would give students who already receive the Bright Flight scholarship of $2,500 annually an additional $5,000 for each year they agree to work full-time in Missouri immediately after graduation. Bright Flight is a merit-based scholarship awarded to the top 3% of ACT test-takers in Missouri. There is no data available to suggest the scholarship sets out what it intends to do: keep talented Missouri students in state after graduation. Bright Flight does not collect information on student financial need, so there is no way to know if additional funding to existing recipients (up to $7,500 per year) will be the incentive that does keep students in-state. Finally, as a forgivable loan program, Bright Flight Boost will place a significant administrative burden on the state; one that at this point has unknown scope and costs.
UPDATE March 5, 2014: Additional funding for the Bright Flight forgivable loan program remains in the substitute budget proposed by Rep. Rick Stream.
St. Louis Graduates opposes the Bright Flight Boost proposal.
In-state Tuition Rate for Undocumented Students
St. Louis Graduates believes that ALL students should have the resources to pursue a postsecondary degree. This applies to students who have graduates from Missouri high schools and presently do not have citizenship status but intend to apply for it. Under no circumstances should students who have lived here since they were children and graduated from Missouri high schools be forced to pay the international student tuition rate which is the highest rate.
St. Louis Graduates supports in-state tuition rates for undocumented students who graduate from Missouri high schools and intend to file for legal status.