Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

March 16, 2007

Scholarship and financial aid proposals

Legislation this session includes several scholarship and financial aid proposals to provide additional financial aid assistance to students. Among the proposals is legislation to provide loan forgiveness for veterinary medicine graduates who stay in Missouri and practice large animal veterinary medicine. Additional bills that would provide scholarships to students who complete an associate’s degree at a two-year institution and transfer to a public four-year institution have been considered in both chambers. Legislation also has been proposed to double the amount of the Bright Flight scholarship.

 

Veterinary medicine scholarships

Proposals to provide loan forgiveness for veterinary medicine graduates who stay in Missouri and practice large animal veterinary medicine are among bills being considered this session. HB693, sponsored by Rep. John Quinn (R-Chillicothe), and SB320, sponsored by Sen. Dan Clemens (R-Marshfield), were both passed before their respective chambers this week. The bills transfer the existing large animal veterinary medicine loan program to the Department of Agriculture and increase the amount of loan funding students can request per year to $20,000. Up to six students would be selected each year to receive the loans, and the balances would be forgiven over a four-year period as long as the graduates practice in the large animal field in the state.

Transfer scholarships

Bills to provide scholarships to students who complete an associate’s degree at a two-year institution and transfer to a public four-year institution have been considered in both chambers. SB160, sponsored by Sen. Scott Rupp (R-St. Charles), is on the Senate perfection calendar after being passed by the Senate Education Committee. HB313, sponsored by Rep. Vicky Schneider (R-O’Fallon), has been heard before the House Higher Education Committee. Both bills also allow students eligible for an A+ scholarship to receive the funds if they attend Rankin Technical Institution, a private two-year institution that provides some programs not offered by public two-year institutions. Currently only students going to public institutions receive A+ scholarships.

Bright Flight scholarships

Rep. Ed Robb (R-Columbia) has sponsored HB250 to double the amount of the Bright Flight scholarship. The program began in 1987 and provided $2,000 for eligible students – at the time enough to cover tuition, fees and books at the University of Missouri in the hopes of keeping the brightest students in the state. Today, the scholarship is still only $2,000, which covers less than a third of the cost of tuition, fees and books at UM. Robb’s bill, which would increase the amount to $4,000, has been passed by the House Higher Education Committee. The University of Missouri has 3,767 Bright Flight scholars, more than any other institution in the state.

Other scholarship proposals

Several other scholarship and financial aid plans have been introduced this session. SB430, introduced by Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph), would eliminate the gaming loss limits and make changes in several other gaming rules to provide funding for a scholarship to all high school graduates who have lived in Missouri for three consecutive years prior to graduation and who attend post-secondary education. The “Smart Start” scholarship would initially provide freshman-only support with a vision of expanding the scholarship beyond the first year later. The bill has been passed by the Senate Education Committee and has been debated on the Senate Floor, where it is awaiting further consideration. 

A plan to encourage more education graduates to teach at unaccredited schools has been introduced by Sen. Jeff Smith (D-St. Louis). The “Teach for Missouri Act,” SB443, which would provide loan forgiveness for students who teach in struggling schools, has been considered by the Senate Education Committee. A similar bill is being drafted in the House.

 

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