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We're pleased the state of Missouri is increasing the funding of the state's A+ scholarship program to meet a need that has increased in part due to COVID-19.

Last week, Gov. Mike Parson announced the state would boost the program by $10.1 million — $4.9 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding and $5.2 million in supplemental funding.

The extra funding will cover most — but not all — of the program's increased needs.

The A+ program provides scholarship funds to eligible graduates of A+ designated high schools who attend a participating public community college or vocational or technical school, as well as certain private two-year vocational or technical schools.

This is a program to help students who deserve a helping hand. They've earned a GPA of at least 2.5 at an A+ certified school. They have an attendance record of at least 95 percent and have performed at least 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring and have achieved proficient or advanced on an end-of-court exam in math. They also have avoided illegal drug/alcohol use.

The program has seen increased usage — and hence, an increased need. Becky Dunn, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, said "the pandemic has changed students' higher education plans by pushing them to stay close to home to avoid dormitory life and offering a lower-cost option."

The boost in funding could help State Tech in Linn, among other colleges. About 52 percent of students at State Tech use the A+ program. That means about 802 students have been impacted by the program's shortfall.

Even with a $10.1 million injection in funds, the program still will see a shortfall of about $1.4 million.

Still, the added funding is a welcome boost that will help good students afford higher education. We commend Parson for seeing the program's value and its need for additional funding.

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