Student-led coalition seeks to end Bright Flight Program

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COLUMBIA - The Active Advocacy Coalition is asking lawmakers from around the state to discountinue Missouri's Bright Flight Program.

The program awards scholarships to high school students who achieve high scores on their ACT tests and choose attend a Missouri college. According to the Missouri Department of Education, qualifying freshman for the 2016-2017 school year can earn a scholarship of up to $3,000. Eligible students may also renew their scholarship for up to ten semesters.

The Active Advocacy Coalition, a student-led group, compiled data on Bright Flight recepients. Karissa Anderson, the manager of advocacy and policy research for the group, said its findings show that rural students, African American students, and public school students are not getting their fair share of Bright Flight scholarships.

The coalition will meet with legislators on Wednesday to ask that the Bright Flight program be discontinued and funds go to a more need-based scholarship fund.

Kay Foley, a Columbia resident, said she hopes the state gives more financial support to students who need it.

"I think anything that provides funds for kids who need it over the kids who are really smart and don't need, it I think is a good thing," Foley said.

But one MU student and recepient of the Bright Flight scholarship said the scholarship helps attract smart students to Missouri schools.

"I received Bright Flight and it was a big factor in me coming to this school," said Jessica Stromsdorfer, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering.