Missouri’s A+ Scholarship funding situation improves

Popular program will cover tuition for all but one credit hour

Students who participate in Missouri’s A+ Scholarship Program will receive tuition reimbursement for all but one credit hour for the Spring 2015 semester, the Department of Higher Education announced December 22, 2014 .

Chancellor Mark James has been working with lawmakers since he was informed about the possible funding shortfall. James said, “The students demonstrated hard work and dedication to meet A+ requirements and it is imperative that we provide the educational opportunities they were promised. We understand any reduction to the A+ Scholarship Program will create challenges for our students and their families. MCC is committed to helping students achieve their higher education goals.  We continue to encourage students to enroll for next semester and speak to advisors so we can help meet each A+ Scholarship recipients’ unique financial needs. We will do our best to find available scholarship dollars.”

More than 2,500 Metropolitan Community College students were eligible for A+ Scholarship funding during the Fall (2014) semester. Since MCC received information regarding the possible funding shortfall, the college has proactively been sending communication to students to inform them of the situation. The institution had no control over the decision; however, we committed to helping students.

Department officials informed the state’s community colleges and vocational-technical schools in August that available funds might be insufficient to cover 100 percent of tuition reimbursement costs through the A+ Program. Officials said at the time that tuition reimbursement could potentially be reduced by up to four credit hours per student due to a funding shortfall. Reimbursement is based on tuition and fee costs not covered by federal financial aid – excluding student loans.

“The A+ Program helps thousands of qualified Missouri students cover the cost of higher education every year,” said David Russell, Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education. “Several factors – including the growing popularity of the program – have contributed to a potential shortfall in funding this year. Fortunately, the reimbursement gap appears to have narrowed somewhat, and many community colleges across the state are working to help students cover the cost of the one-credit hour reimbursement reduction so they can continue their education uninterrupted.

The funding shortfall is attributed to state funding levels, an increasing number of students using the program and increases in tuition costs. In November, Gov. Jay Nixon released $2 million in A+ funds that had been restricted in June to keep the state budget in balance.

Because the A+ Scholarship is a reimbursement program, the department had to assess the amount of funding needed to pay tuition and fees for qualifying students completing the Fall 2014 semester in order to determine how much funding would be available for the Spring 2015 semester. The Department of Higher Education will continue to monitor program funding status over the next several months.