During a visit to Missouri State University today, Gov. Jay Nixon announced that his Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal will include a significant increase for Missouri's public four-year universities and called on those institutions to freeze tuition for Missouri undergraduates for the 2014-2015 school year.
"To keep our economy growing, we need every student in Missouri to have access to an affordable college education and to graduate without a heavy burden of debt," Gov. Nixon said. "Our efforts to hold down tuition and support our scholarship and financial aid programs have helped make Missouri a national leader in college affordability. Today I am calling on our four-year universities to help us build on this momentum by holding undergraduate tuition flat next year."
Gov. Nixon's Fiscal Year 2015 balanced budget proposal, which will be presented to the General Assembly in January, will include an additional $36.7 million in funding for Missouri's public universities. This five percent increase in funding will be made available through Missouri's performance-based funding model for higher education, implemented for the first time this past year.
"Nothing will have a greater impact on the future of our economy, and our state, than the commitment we make now to education. To continue preparing the workforce of tomorrow, I'm proposing a significant investment in Missouri's colleges and universities," Gov. Nixon said.
Gov. Nixon has made the quality and affordability of higher education in Missouri a top priority of his administration. Over the past five years, Missouri has led the nation in holding down tuition increases at its public colleges and universities. The College Board's 2013 Trends in College Pricing report shows that tuition and fees at Missouri's public four-year institutions increased just 5 percent since 2008, lower than in any other state in the nation.
Since taking office, the Governor has made strategic investments to boost enrollment in high-growth, high-demand fields through programs like Caring for Missourians, MoHealthWins, and MoManufacturingWins.
Last year, Gov. Nixon set a goal of giving every student in the state the opportunity to earn a Missouri A+ scholarship. Under the A+ program, Missouri students can earn a scholarship to cover the cost of tuition and academic fees for two years at any public two-year community college or technical school in the state. To be eligible for the program, students must meet academic achievement standards, conduct and attendance requirements, and perform 50 hours of tutoring or mentoring service.
Since the Governor took office, 266 schools have been added to Missouri's A+ Schools program and 99 percent of public high school students in Missouri now have the opportunity to earn an A+ scholarship and attend two years of community college tuition free.
Last month, the Governor also put forward his proposal to enhance Missouri's Bright Flight scholarship program and encourage more high-achieving students to stay and work in Missouri after graduating from college. The Governor's proposal, Bright Flight Boost, calls for an additional $15 million to offer Bright Flight scholars the option of receiving an additional $5,000 per year on the condition that they pursue employment in Missouri after they graduate.
To be eligible for Bright Flight Boost, students must be a Missouri resident and a United States citizen or permanent resident, and have a composite score on the ACT or SAT in the top 3 percent of all Missouri students taking those tests. Bright Flight Boost will offer scholarship recipients the option of an additional $5,000 award each year for four years, if they commit to staying and working full-time in Missouri, after they've earned their college degree or credential. If the graduate pursues employment outside of Missouri prior to the completion of their commitment, they would have to pay the remaining award back to the state.