Scholarships expansion backed

Gov. Jay Nixon visited Russellville High School on Thursday and congratulated its educators and students on its designation as an A+ school.

The A+ program provides two years of tuition and fees at public community colleges and technical schools for students who go through the program at an A+ designated school.

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Gov. Jay Nixon meets with Russellville students Thursday and talks about the importance of the A+ program while applauding the school’s designation in the program.

“It is always a pleasure to visit one of Missouri’s outstanding public schools,” Gov. Nixon said, “and I am especially pleased to be here at Russellville today. As a long-time supporter of the A+ program, I commend the teachers, administrators, staff, students and parents in Russellville for going the extra mile and earning this designation which will help more Missouri families achieve the dream of an affordable college education.”

To be eligible for the program, students must meet the academic achievement, tutoring or mentoring service, conduct requirements and graduate from a designated A+ high school.

Trisha Black, who is the A+ coordinator for the Cole R-I School District said Russellville High School has 99 students currently enrolled in the A+ program.

Black said seven of the 18 qualifying students who graduated in May 2010 are using their A+ benefits. Three of those students are enrolled at Linn Tech and the four others are enrolled at State Fair.

Of the remaining 11 eligible students, two plan on using their A+ benefits during the 2011-2012 school year, while eight other students are currently enrolled in a four-year university and not eligible. The other student has enlisted in the military.

“We were very honored and pleased the governor and his staff decided to come to our school,” Cole R-I School District Superintendent Jerry Hobbs said.

“We have worked very hard the last two years to get the program. Our staff has worked very hard in developing the curriculum to meet the needs of the program as well as changing policy to improve our attendance. Students need to have a 95 percent attendance and a 2.5 GPA along with other criteria.”

Hobbs said he hopes Nixon and the Legislature will expand the program to include not only two-year schools, but four-year colleges as well.

Since 1997, almost 125,000 Missouri students have qualified for A+ scholarships with more than 50,000 of those having taken advantage of those financial incentives for at least one semester. In total, Missouri students have received more than $163 million in A+ scholarships since 1997.

“As tuition costs continue to skyrocket across the country, Missouri is leading the way in college affordability,” Nixon said.

“A+ scholarships help students prepare for the jobs of the future by putting a college degree within reach.

“The A+ program has helped tens of thousands of families afford a college education and these scholarships must continue to be a priority, even in challenging economic times. I am committed to finding a way to expand the benefits of this program so we can help more families in every corner of Missouri.”

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