Many Missouri college students began their spring semester with $400 less to put towards their tuition.
The Bright Flight scholarship rewards Missouri residents with money to help pay for college — that is, if they earn a certain ACT score and decide to attend an in-state college or university. The scholarship is meant to encourage students to attend college in-state. However, thanks to the new Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, as well as funding hardships that the state was already experiencing, the scholarship money is being cut by $400.
The scholarship recipients received an e-mail like the following from their respective Student Financial Services.
Several students took to Twitter to express their frustration with the funding cuts.
Fresh U caught up with seven Missouri college freshmen to hear their opinions on the scholarship decrease and how it will affect them. Their responses are as follows:
Alec Hilton — Washington University in St. Louis
"I am slightly disappointed that Bright Flight was being reduced this year. It is sad that the state of Missouri is not investing as much in the education of future students. [...] The reduction is coming between two semester. This causes budgeting problems for the families of students and for the students themselves. Most people have already budgeted the school year thinking that no scholarships would be reduced in the middle of the school year. [...] I believe that we need to invest in our future and the reduction of bright flight only makes it harder for some students to obtain a higher education. If money becomes a problem, students in Missouri may choose to leave the state to follow more scholarships."
Anna Hwang — University of Missouri, Kansas City
"I think the situation with cutting Bright Flight funds for students was poorly executed. I received an email informing me that due to a 'greater than normal growth in the number of eligible students,' that I would be receiving $400 less in scholarships. I am fortunate enough where this won't be a make or break situation to attend college, however I think it is definitely unfair and damaging to the students that were depending on this scholarship to pay for college."
Ben Rankin — University of Missouri, Kansas City
"The budget cuts for Bright Flight are concerning. I think that there are certainly legitimate reasons to redistribute some of the funds for Bright Flight; historically, they've gone to those students who already have access to considerable resources and are able to prepare well for the ACT. I would feel a lot better if some of the money was means-tested; while I appreciate the help, I could afford college with or without it, and that's not true for a lot of high-performing students. However, it's disturbing that the new administration in Missouri shows no signs of investing in education, and is simply slashing budgets because education has little value to the state government. This is the really disturbing part of the cuts; it's the canary in the coal mine for future damage to Missouri's education structure, which will have a much larger impact."
Ethan Smith — Missouri University of Science and Technology
"Education is the best way to ensure that Missouri has a prosperous future, and it's just taken a massive blow from our own state government. Governor Greitens' new budget shows cuts of $170 million to higher education, and an additional $10 million to K-12.* Ironically enough he campaigned stating he wouldn't do the latter, however with the first college costs are going to be increasing considerably for students like me. The University of MO system had already sent out emails regarding increasing tuition and scholarships being cut, in addition to the cutting of student transportation and other services. Given Missouri Science and Technology students end up paying five times more in taxes than we receive in state funding, it seems a moronic move to sell out the future of our state for short term political posturing."
Lexi Jackson — Washington University in St. Louis
"I feel that cutting the amount of the Bright Flight scholarship reflects poorly on Missouri's educational priorities. The promise of the Bright Flight Scholarship pushes students to improve their test scores and learning while also increasing their college readiness. Once students enter the threshold of the Bright Flight test scores (31+), students have the ability to attend a greater number of colleges--many of which come with higher costs. The Bright Flight scholarship helps cover these costs and award students for their academic performance. Decreasing it's amount even by a few hundred dollars can make a difference between a student's ability to attend or not to attend their choice college."
Monica Fallone — Truman State University
"I was notified of the cuts to Bright Flight on the Monday of Finals week, and [my notification] didn't even say how much my scholarship would be affected. I found out I would be receiving $400 dollars less just a few weeks before my first tuition bill was due. Every dollar counts, and scrambling to find an extra $400 dollars with less than a months notice is hard. It's even harder during the holidays. Cutting funding by such a significant amount with such little notice really shows the disconnect between Missouri legislators and the students they represent. If these cuts continue, I won't have any choice but to move back home for school."
Sidney Steele — University of Missouri, Columbia
"My understanding is that as of now, Missouri just hasn't brought in enough tax revenue to fund the amount we were promised for Bright Flight this semester. Hopefully we will be able to get the money, because this is how I am paying for my college. $400 doesn't seem like a lot of money, but when you are trying to avoid taking out student loans, it is stressful. Most of my scholarships are funded by the state, whether through Mizzou or other ways, so there is a lot of uncertainty about whether or not I will get the money I had expected to pay for my school."
Hopefully Missouri college students will still be able to find ways to finance their higher education, even in the face of state-sponsored scholarship cuts.
Lead Image Credit: Flikr Creative Commons
Editor's Note: Some quotes have been edited for clarity and cohesiveness.