Issue Position: Education - Making College More Affordable for Middle-Class Families
Jay Nixon knows full well that to ensure that the next generation is prepared for the jobs of the future, we need to make college more affordable and accessible. Yet, under the current administration, our state has been falling behind. Across our state, the cost of college tuition is skyrocketing - up over 30 percent from fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2007 for Missouri students. As a result, middle-class families are getting squeezed out of the dream of sending their kids to college. And those who do make it are graduating with increasing mounds of debt.
A product of Missouri's public schools all the way from kindergarten through law school, Jay Nixon understands the importance of a quality, affordable education. As Attorney General, Jay was a strong opponent of Matt Blunt's sell-off of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, the agency responsible for providing low-interest loans to Missouri students. Jay stood up against the sale because it does little good to construct new buildings if fewer and fewer students can afford to go to college in the first place.
That is why Jay has put forward a plan called the Missouri Promise -- to provide a pathway for middle-class Missourians to earn a four-year degree at a state college or university - and graduate debt free. Building on the state's existing A+ Schools Program, the Missouri Promise allows students who start at a community college and satisfy specific academic, community service and financial requirements to finish their degree at a Missouri state college or university. In exchange for the tuition waiver, each student must pledge to earn good grades, give back to the community and keep out of trouble.
Here's how the program would work:
First, Jay would expand the existing A+ Schools Program, which is currently available to only half the state's high school students, so that all Missouri high school students who meet the performance requirements have the opportunity to attend community college or technical school tuition free.
Then, Jay would offer all high school seniors who plan to access an A+ scholarship the opportunity to sign the Missouri Promise, a contract between the student and the state of Missouri that will allow the student to earn a four-year degree after completing his or her two-year degree at a community college or technical school. In exchange for earning good grades at the community college (3.0 GPA), completing 50 hours of community service per year of participation and avoiding disciplinary action, the student will receive a Missouri Promise scholarship to complete his or her four-year degree at a state college or university.
Jay's program would make sure every Missouri student has the potential to achieve the dream of a four-year degree - without the nightmare of never-ending debt.