SS/SCS/SB 558 – This act modifies the A+ Schools Program, modifies the Higher Education Academic Scholarship Program (Bright Flight) and creates the Missouri Promise Program within the Department of Higher Education, which will provide scholarships to students completing their third and fourth years of college.
A+ SCHOOLS PROGRAM - Current law provides that public high schools may receive grant awards to modify and improve their curriculum. This act eliminates these grant awards.
Currently, in order to receive reimbursements through the A+ Program, a student must attend and graduate from a high school that has been designated as an A+ school by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. To be an A+ school, a high school must meet various requirements, including meeting certain curricular standards, as designated in Department of Elementary and Secondary Education rules. Instead, this act shifts eligibility for students to receive reimbursements through the A+ Program from having to attend an A+ designated high school to students who meet the requirements identified in this act. Many of the requirements for A+ reimbursements that exist in rules promulgated by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are codified in this act.
A student must meet the following requirements to qualify for a financial incentive award: have attended a public high school in Missouri for three years prior to graduation; have graduated from high school with an overall grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, or an equivalent; have at least a 95% attendance record overall for grades nine through twelve; have performed at least fifty hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring; and have maintained a record of good citizenship and avoidance of the unlawful use of drugs and alcohol.
In order to maintain eligibility for the four-year period of incentive availability, a student must meet the following requirements: enroll in and attend a Missouri public community college, vocational or technical school, state technical college, or private vocational or technical school, as described in the act; maintain a grade point average of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale, or its equivalent on another scale; and maintain a record or good citizenship and avoidance of the unlawful use of drugs and alcohol.
A student must make a documented good faith effort to first secure all available postsecondary student financial assistance funds that do not require repayment. The financial incentives in this act are subject to appropriation and are available only after all other postsecondary student financial assistance funds have been applied to costs. The awards will be available to reimburse the unpaid balance of the cost of tuition, general fees, and up to fifty percent of the book cost for a student, in that order.
Missouri institutions of higher education, as described in the act, must verify certain information for each student who receives a financial incentive and attends such an institution. By the end of the first semester of a student's participation, the institution of higher education must: verify that student eligibility has been received from the student's high school of graduation; the eligible student is enrolled full-time; and the student has made a good faith effort to secure all available postsecondary student financial assistance funds. During the second semester, and any subsequent semester, of a student's receipt of financial incentives, the institution of higher education must verify that: the eligible student continues to be enrolled full-time; the student continues to make good faith efforts to secure all available postsecondary student financial assistance funds; the student maintains a grade point average of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
Current law provides the same requirements and qualifications to participate in the A+ Schools Program for private career-technical schools and public career-technical schools. This act removes public career-technical schools from those requirements. This act also adds state technical colleges to the schools that may participate in the program.
This section contains provisions similar to HB 903 (2009) and contains provisions also contained in SB 493 (2009) and HB 490 (2009). (Section 160.545)
HIGHER EDUCATION ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM - This act makes changes to the Higher Education Academic Scholarship Program (Bright Flight). It specifies that a student must be a Missouri resident in order to be eligible for a scholarship. In addition, it expands scholarship eligibility to individuals who have received a General Education Development diploma (GED) or who have completed a homeschooling program of study.
The qualifying score necessary for a student to receive a scholarship will be determined at the beginning of an eligible student's final year of secondary coursework.
Current law provides that in fiscal year 2011 and beyond, a student scoring between the top 3-5% of Missouri ACT or SAT test-takers will receive a $1,000 scholarship. This act provides that a student scoring in the top 5% of Missouri ACT test-takers will be offered a $1,000 scholarship, with an additional result being that a test-taker scoring in the top 3% would receive $4,000.
Current law allows a student to receive a renewal scholarship for the second, third, and fourth academic years. This act allows a student to renew the scholarship for as long as the student is in compliance with the renewal requirements described in the act.
If a scholarship recipient cannot attend an approved institution because of military service with the United States Armed Forces, the student will receive the scholarship if he or she returns to full-time status within six months after ending military service. The student must verify to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education that the military service was satisfactorily completed.
This section is identical to SB 40 (2009) and is similar to provisions contained in SB 984 (2008). (Section 173.250)
MISSOURI PROMISE PROGRAM - The Commissioner of Higher Education will establish scholarships beginning in academic year 2009-2010 for certain public four-year institutions, as described in the act, for students who previously received a scholarship under the A+ reimbursement program and completed a designated Associate's Degree and enroll in an approved institution within nine months of completion. Additional eligibility requirements include: a good faith effort to first secure other sources of funding; maintaining full-time enrollment; maintaining a record of good citizenship and avoidance of the unlawful use of drugs and alcohol; and maintaining a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale while receiving the scholarship. A student cannot receive a scholarship for more than six semesters.
If a student has a grade point average that falls below a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, the student will be granted a one semester grace period. The student will lose eligibility if the student cannot subsequently raise his or her GPA to a 3.0.
A student's scholarship amount must be reduced by the amount of a student's award under all other sources of postsecondary student financial assistance.
Scholarships under this section will be subject to appropriation. If appropriations are insufficient to provide scholarships for all eligible students, scholarships to students attending two-year schools under the A+ reimbursement program must be fully funded before scholarships can be distributed to students attending four year schools. In addition, scholarship amounts can be prorated if necessary. Any proration or reduction must take into account the order of priority for distribution of financial incentives to students (tuition, fees, books).
The Commissioner of Higher Education must develop a procedure for evaluating the effectiveness of this program, which will be conducted every two years. The results of the evaluation must be sent to the Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
This section contains provisions similar to HB 903 (2009). (Section 173.268)