Education leaders discuss idea of free community college

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JEFFERSON CITY - Free community college available to students is part of Missouri's new higher education plan discussion. Organizations from across the state are giving suggestions on how to improve the plan.

The Missouri Community College Association said at the Jan. 29 public hearing in Jefferson City the organization wants the state to continue funding the A+ Program.

Rob Dixon, the executive director of the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA), explained the purpose of the program.

"The A+ Program provides funding for students in schools to go and get free tuition for community colleges," Dixon said. "It's based on their performance, their behavior and a variety of other performance factors that they have to meet in order to comply with the program."

Dixon said he and the MCCA are looking for more state funding to support the students at state colleges.

"Certainly that is part of our legislative agenda," Dixon said. "Continuing to insure the promise that we have given to the students in Missouri for the last 20 years is part of that as well."

He said the program took a hit in funding last year and is now trying to recover.

"At the end of 2014 there were some challenges in funding for the A+ Program, so the state legislature was working to increase the funding," Dixon said.

President Obama announced the possibility of a similar national program earlier in January. Dixon said he is interested in the president's plan, but there is not enough information out yet for it to enter higher education plan discussions.

"On that particular plan, the details have not come out yet, and so we're just waiting to see what that is," Dixon said. "But Missouri has a plan that works and that's the A+ Program so we certainly hope the support for that program will be there."

The higher education meetings will continue through June, and a new plan will be submitted in January.