In a further attempt to balance the state budget, Governor Jay Nixon cut the Access Missouri Scholarship program by $50 million, leaving a comparatively-paltry $33 million in the program's coffers.
Access Missouri is the state's only need-based scholarship program, which provides funding to 42,000 Missouri college students. Even before Nixon's latest cut, the program was struggling; for the 2010-2011 school year, it promised scholarship money only to students whose family contribution was $12,000 or less. The maximum award was $2,000 for students attending a four-year college or university.
Nixon also cut the budget for Bright Flight, a merit-based scholarship program, by a quarter.
Independent Colleges and Universities of Missouri has issued a statement condemning Nixon's cuts: "Gov. Nixon dealt tens of thousands of students from working and low-income Missouri families a devastating blow."
"We are hopeful that the dream of achieving a college education has not moved out of reach for many students from working class and lower-income Missouri families," said Marianne Inman, chair of Independent Colleges and Universities of Missouri. "The magnitude of the reduction to our state's only need-based financial aid program is a disservice not only to financially deserving students but to Missouri's workforce development initiatives."
Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) has promised to give $30 million in scholarship resources, but it hasn't yet been decided how those resources will be allocated.
In all, Nixon made $300 million in cuts to the state's $23 billion budget last week.