ST. LOUIS — An advocacy group is pushing the Missouri Legislature to reconsider how it awards scholarships for a 30-year-old program designed to keep the brightest college students in the state.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1QcLX19 ) reports that the Active Advocacy Coalition, a statewide group of students working to improve access to education, will be in Jefferson City with policy experts Wednesday to make their case to legislators.
The group says the state should direct money used for the Bright Flight scholarship to low-income students rather than to select, well-off students who usually receive the award.
Each year, the Bright Flight program rewards about 6,000 students who score in the top 3 percent on the ACT standardized test.
The coalition argues that by basing Bright Flight solely on SAT scores, the state is directing money to students who already have the means to pay for college. The group says research shows higher ACT scores correlate to higher incomes.
The group suggests that Bright Flight's $17 million be dedicated to Access Missouri, a scholarship program for low-income students. The state currently spends about $60 million on roughly 51,000 students in this program each year.
Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he think it's important to have separate scholarship programs.
"I'd hate to cannibalize one scholarship program in favor of the other," he said.
Otherwise, the group suggests the state award money only to students who have a financial need, distribute scholarships equally to the top students at each high school or base the awards on broader criteria.
"State dollars are very scarce; we should be getting the most value out of them," said Karissa Anderson, a policy analyst with the coalition. "We should use them where we can make the most impact."
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com