June 24, 2016

East Central College officials are excited about seeing more students in the future due to an expansion of the state’s A+ program.

Governor Jay Nixon this week signed Senate Bill 638 into law. The  legislation will allow any nonpublic Missouri high school to apply to the State Board of Education to be certified as an A+ School, if that school meets the same requirements that apply to public high schools.

The A+ scholarship program, which under Governor Nixon has expanded to include nearly every public high school in Missouri, enables qualified students to attend one of the state’s public community colleges by covering the costs of tuition for two years.

“This bill helps even more hard working Missouri students attend community college without paying a nickel for tuition through the A+ Program,” said Nixon.

“This is very good news for students and their families,”  noted Dr. Jon Bauer, president of East Central College.  “We welcome them into this highly successful program. More than 500 students utilized A+ funding to cover their tuition and general fees this year at ECC.  That totals $99 per credit hour for our in-district students and $134 for those who live outside the college district.”

Bauer stated that for an in-district student completing 30 credit hours in an academic year, A+ represents a benefit totaling $2,970; and $4,020 for an out-of-district student.

A+ does not cover any additional costs associated with classes, such as lab fees and books.

Bauer stated that each year many more students are A+ eligible, but the Missouri Department of Higher Education requires students to use their federal grants to cover their tuition and general fees before they can use A+ funds.

To be eligible for A+ assistance high school students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents; enter into a written agreement with their high school prior to graduation; attend a designated A+ high school for three consecutive years immediately prior to graduation; and graduate with an overall grade point average of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale.  They must also have at least a 95 percent attendance record overall for grades 9-12; perform at least 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring, of which up to 25 percent may include job shadowing; maintain a record of good citizenship and avoid the unlawful use of drugs and/or alcohol.   Students must also achieve a score of proficient or advanced on the Algebra I end of course exam, or a higher level end-of-course exam in the field of mathematics approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

To take advantage of their A+ benefits at East Central or any of the other participating public community colleges, vocational/technical schools, or private two-year vocational/technical schools, students must seek a degree or certificate at the school where they are enrolled on a full-time basis.  They must also make a good faith effort to secure all available federal financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  As post-secondary students they must  maintain satisfactory academic progress by earning a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA and completing a minimum of 12 credits each semester.  The A+ program will not cover costs for students who pursue a degree or certificate in theology or divinity.

The governor signed the bill Wednesday in Springfield, MO.





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