Some MO college students told scholarships may fall short - KCTV5

Some MO college students told scholarships may fall short

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Jay Nixon Jay Nixon
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

College students who participate in the A+ Scholarship program have been warned that a funding shortfall may stop them from getting all the hours they were expecting to have covered.

The program provides scholarships to certain community colleges and certain two-year vocational and technical schools.

During his re-election campaign two years, Gov. Jay Nixon pledged to expand the program. But the money may not be there in 2015.

More than 14,000 community college and technical school students in Missouri earlier this fall received a letter telling them that there could be less money for them.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education will know within the next two weeks just how much less. But for now, it's estimating students will have to pay out of pocket for one to three credit hours.

"We know that so far 400 have not enrolled yet for spring semester, which starts Jan. 12," Metropolitan Community College Chancellor Mark James said.

A total of 1,786 MCC students enrolled in the fall semester under the A+ Scholarship. James says he fears several hundred are scared to re-enroll for spring after hearing about the possibility of funding cuts.

Freshman Frankie Rooney is one of them. She hasn't picked out her classes because she's waiting to hear just how much money she'll have to pay up.

"We're just worried about how we're supposed to pay for it or how are our parents going to pay for it," Rooney said.

As an out-of-district student, Rooney pays $175 per credit. She doesn't know if she can afford school if any of the scholarship money goes away.

Others like Evelyn Crosby finished just before the money went into jeopardy.

"This scholarship, I don't even know how I would've made it this far. It was a huge relief," Crosby said.

Crosby is a peer leader at MCC. She mentors students and co-instructs entry level classes. She says the reality for most of her mentees is that $95 to $525 can make or break their higher education opportunity.

James says compounding factors including state education funding cuts, higher tuition and an increased demand lead to the first funding problem for the 17-year-old scholarship program.

Under Nixon, the program grew by 95 percent and more than doubled school districts' participation rates in the last five years. Scott Holste, a spokesman for Nixon, on Tuesday stopped short of saying Nixon has no regrets about growing the program so aggressively. He pointed out the tens of thousands of students who have benefited from the scholarship.

MCC is asking its A+ students to at least meet with a financial aid counselor before making a decision about the spring semester. The school's foundation has set aside some money to help a selected group of students bridge the gap.

The shortfall is part of budget disputes between Nixon, a Democrat, and the Republican-led Missouri General Assembly. The A+ program was created 17 years ago.

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