State Sets Scholarship Minimum
JEFFERSON CITY - Colleges and Universities throughout the state spent Wednesday telling students how much scholarship money they'll get from the revised Access Missouri program. Students will get different amounts than initially estimated due to state budget cuts. The minimum scholarship amount per student is less then the minimum set by a 2007 state law.
The minimum annual scholarship amount for the next year will be $275 for community college students, $950 for the students at public schools, and $1,900 for private school students.
But according to the minimum set by that 2007 statute, the payments would be $300 for students at community colleges, $1,000 for public school students, and $2,000 for students at private schools.
"If there's not enough to meet that minimum requirement what our approach was to try and still stay true to the intent and concept of the statute," said Missouri Department of Higher Education Assistant Commissioner Leroy Wade, "While still dealing with the fact that there wasn't quite enough money to put them where the statute would have."
The Access Missouri program's original budget was 82 million dollars, but earlier in the summer lawmakers cut 52 million dollars. The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) gave the program 30 million dollars. That still left Access Missouri 22 million dollars short of its original budget.
Wade said if people have questions about their individual amounts, they should contact their institution's financial aid office. Wade said each school breaks down payments for students differently.
"I would say it's been unfortunate. Obviously it has a negative impact on our students." said MU Director of Student Financial Aid Jim Brooks, "However, the additional 30 million that MOHELA is providing to the state does quite a bit to offset the original 50 million dollar cut."
The financial aid director at Westminster College in Fulton, Aimee Bristow, shares a similar sentiment.
According to both, the word around local college and university financial aid offices is "proactive" as they try to keep students informed about the changing amount of scholarship dollars.
While Bristow said her office overestimated the amount each student would get from Access Missouri, Brooks said his office had the same problem with new students. But he said his office actually underestimated the amount for current students. Even that amount is still less than students got last year.
"So the student is faced with the dilemma of how they're going to make up the reduction of their state-funded financial aid program when classes are scheduled to begin less than a month." said Bristow.
This year about 102,000 students qualify for funds from Access Missouri, compared to the 86,000 students who qualified last year.