Some Missouri A+ students worried about losing funding

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COLUMBIA-- Some students and educators across Mid-Missouri raised concerns Tuesday, after an announcement from the Department of Higher Education notified community colleges that financial aid for the A+ program may be reduced.

Students who are part of the A+ program were promised reimbursement for two years of community college if they met and maintained certain criteria.

"Obviously from a student perspective it adds a lot of uncertainty and a level of affordability challenge that they may not have been planning to face," said the Executive Director of Missouri Community College Association, Zora Mulligan.

Instead of providing financial aid for a full two years of community or technical college, A+ funding could be reduced by three or four credit hours per student. 

Levi Mitchell, a freshman taking classes at the Columbia campus of Moberly Area Community College and member of the A+ program, said his future might be at risk if he doesn't receive the financial aid he was expecting.

"It's a bad idea," Mitchell said. "It would hurt a lot of people, a lot of good people who just can't afford to go to college."

Freshman Austin Silar said he can't afford to put himself through college at this point without the A+ program. 

"I already have a job right now, but I'll probably have to put in more hours and ask my parents for money," Silar said. "I want to become some type of an electrician. If the A+ program is still here in two years then I was looking go to a technical school."

State officials said the growing popularity of the program and budget cuts are the reasons why the cuts are being considered. The Department of Higher Education did not immediately comment for KOMU 8 News.

Mulligan said, "The thing to emphasize is that we're not completely sure the department will have to make that reduction, at this point, it's just their best guess based on enrollment patterns."

"A+ has been in existence for over 20 years and it's been one of the most successfuly student financial aid programs in the state," she said. "It has been a tremendous benefit to get people who might not go to college to go to college."

Mulligan said she expects a decision to be made in October and any change in funding to be implemented by the spring semester.