Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

January 6, 2006

Lawmakers focus on improving the Bright Flight scholarship program

When state legislators passed legislation to establish the Bright Flight scholarship program in 1987, the $2,000 awards were more than enough to cover tuition and fees at the University of Missouri. The program, which was designed to provide a significant financial incentive to keep Missouri’s brightest students from going out of state for college, will be a major higher education issue in the 2006 session. Sen. Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau) has introduced SB662 that would increase the Bright Flight award from $2,000 per year to $4,000 per year. The legislation also includes an inflationary index so that the buying power of the award does not diminish in the future.

“If we want to encourage Missouri’s best academic performers to continue their education in the state of Missouri, the scholarship needs to reflect the rising costs of tuition,” Crowell said.

A constituent in his district shared a story of the dilemma he faced with a daughter who qualified for the current award but was able to get a better financial package to go out of state to school. “That hit home to me and indicated that this is something we need to do,” he said.

The University of Missouri enrolls more Bright Flight scholars than any other state institution, so such an enhancement would provide a great financial boost to UM students. The award requires a composite ACT or SAT score in the top 3 percent of scores for all Missourians, and students are eligible to receive the funds for up to 10 semesters.

Last year, Missouri provided 8,390 Bright Flight scholarships for a total of $15.9 million. About 80 percent of the recipients attend public institutions. The University of Missouri had 3,807 Bright Flight scholars last year for a total of $7.1 million in funding.

The Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM) also has made Bright Flight a part of its 2006 legislative platform. The student organization is encouraging lawmakers to increase the award amount, and also is opposing attempts by some groups to reduce the length of the scholarship from 10 semesters to 8.

A State Aid Task Force appointed by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education also is reviewing all scholarship programs and made a recommendation to increase Bright Flight in its preliminary report last month.

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