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A+ Program Cuts Possible; Local Education Official Optimistic They'll be Avoided


Missouri Community Colleges are being told by education officials that the state might reduce reimbursements for the A+ scholarship program.  KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more.

The program gives high school graduates who meet certain criteria, reimbursements for two years of classes at a community college in the state.

Education deputy Leroy Wade says the department has told schools to prepare students for a reduction of about three or four credit hours per student.  He says the warning is “very pre-emptive” and would take effect in January at the earliest.

Wade says the reductions might be necessary because the number of students using A+ money is increasing, making the program more expensive for the state.

But Ozarks Community Technical College president Dr. Hal Higdon is optimistic those cuts won’t happen.

"Well, for several reasons.  Number one:  the governor has withheld, I think, $2.1  million due to the ongoing budget issues that dealt with the veto session, so I'm hopeful that the governor will release those funds.  This program is very important to him.  The Missouri Promise is something that he's been working to expand a long time, so I would expect he'd release those funds.  And then, secondly, in years where there has not been enough money, this is a mandatory budget item for the state, so it would be included, most likely, in a supplemental budget that would be introduced in January," he said.

About 2700 students out of 15,000 enrolled at OTC are on A+.  Higdon says many of them are eligible for Pell Grants, and if that money covers all of their tuition, any cuts in the A+ program wouldn’t affect them.