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Access Mo. scholarships to increase

Access Mo. scholarships to increase

January 14th, 2011 in News

Rather than the cuts proposed in previous years, Missouri students at private colleges and universities this year can expect small increases in annual Access Missouri scholarships.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education has announced that Access Missouri scholarships for qualifying students attending private institutions - such as Westminster College and William Woods University in Fulton - will increase from $1,900 a year to a maximum of $2,160.

For qualifying students at four-year public institutions - such as the University of Missouri - the scholarships will increase from $950 up to a maximum of $1,010.

The Access Missouri program was created several years ago to provide more scholarship money to students attending private colleges and universities because their tuition costs and other expenses are higher than tax-subsidized public colleges and universities.

The increased scholarship amounts this year for both private and public institutions reflect the maximum Access Missouri award a student would receive for both semesters of the 2010-2011 school year.

Nixon said "the increases are possible because of careful management of Access Missouri resources and the current level of demand for the scholarships."

The governor said decisions about scholarship amounts for the fall 2011 semester will be made after the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins in July, is approved by the Missouri General Assembly.

"To compete for jobs in the 21st century, education and training beyond high school are vital," Nixon said. "I am pleased my administration will be able to increase Access Missouri awards for this school year to help more students afford to earn a degree."

Nixon said in the past his two-year freeze on tuition at all public colleges and universities helped make higher education more affordable to Missouri students.

About 46,000 Missouri students will receive an estimated $58.7 million in Access Missouri scholarships during the spring 2011 semester.

Last week Nixon said his administration will prioritize funding for Missouri's A+ Scholarship Program, which covers the cost of tuition and general fees for two years at public community colleges for students who meet academic achievement, service and conduct requirements.

Nixon said he is looking for ways to make the A+ program accessible to more Missouri students and state grants have been made to Missouri's public community colleges to expand educational programs in high-demand employment fields. He added that St. Louis Community College has received a state grant of more than $2 million.

The college has started training its first class of hybrid electric vehicle technician students. The 240-hour program will prepare students for entry-level positions in the automotive industry. Students will be trained in the fundamentals of hybrid electronic automobiles, including the use of necessary equipment and tools. The program can accommodate up to 15 students.

The college also is using the $2 million state grant to expand programs in health care, manufacturing and information technology.