Bright Flight may double

This week, a bill the Missouri House Higher Education Committee considered a bill that could allow 8,401 Missouri students to double their money.

House Bill 250 would increase Bright Flight scholarships from $2,000 per student per year to $4,000 per student per year.

“Currently it has been $2,000 for twenty years,” said Anthony Brown, University of Missouri-St. Louis student, and representative for the Associated Students of the University of Missouri.

Dr. Delores Honey, Missouri Southern’s assistant vice president for assesment and institutional research, also acknowledged the scholarship has not risen since the late 1980s.

“Four thousand is enough to help bright students clear across the board,” she said.

Brown testified to the committee that he and the 63,000 students he represents from the University of Missouri, including Rolla, St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia, support HB 250. The bill would affect 707 students at Missouri State University, 42 students at Missouri Western University and 70 students at Southern.

Originally Bright Flight was created to pay tuition for students scoring in the top 3 percent on their ACT/SAT tests. But that was in 1986, and since then tuition has been raised.

“$2,000 is less than a third of tuition at a University of Missouri,” Brown said.

Which has made the scholarship a lot less appealing to students, said Joe Camille, director of financial aid at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“When I came to Missouri in 1988, Bright Flight was a powerful tool to keep the best and brightest students in Missouri,” Camille said. “But it was a couple of thousand dollars then and is still a couple thousand now. Which is why in the last three years we’ve seen less and less Bright Flight students at the University of Missouri.”

The bill’s sponsor Rep. Edward Robb (R-Columbia) also mentioned that this is the only merit-based scholarship in Missouri and that all other scholarships are needs-based, and since there is currently legislation meant to raise needs-based scholarships then lawmakers should consider raising the one merit-based scholarship.

Barbara Dixon, president of Truman State University also testified in support of the bill. She said increasing the amount to $4,000 a year would pay almost 2/3 of a student’s tuition. Which would have a major impact on her school, since there are currently 1,370 students attending Truman State who already receive Bright Flight.

The bill was not voted on during the committee meeting.