St. Louis Graduates advocates for state and federal policies that make postsecondary education accessible and affordable for students, especially those who who come from low-income communities, are first-generation, students of color and undocumented students.
St. Louis Graduates' policy positions and actions are aligned with the student-led Active Advocacy Coalition and The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis. Policy positions are coordinated through an Advocacy Committee of the St. Louis Graduates Steering Committee.
Missouri's student aid priority should be Access Missouri
It is critical that Missouri’s limited scholarship dollars go to students that need financial assistance in order to afford a postsecondary education. Access Missouri is the state's need-based aid program providing awards for more than 50,000 students per year. Due to underfunding of the program, student awards range from $1,500 to $1,850, far below the statute maximum of $2,850. This award amount is below that of 31 other states, ranking Missouri near the bottom in award amounts for need-based aid.
To learn more about why Access Missouri is important to Missouri students, read the Active Advocacy Coalition's position paper.
Making A+ a First-Dollar Scholarship Program
All students who have earned the A+ Scholarship through academic and personal achievement in high school should have the benefit of using their A+ Scholarship. Presently, students attending two-year institutions who are Pell-eligible are required to spend their Pell dollars first, meaning they never use the A+ Scholarship for which they have worked so hard. Making A+ a first-dollar scholarship will enable the state’s lowest income students to receive the “free community college” benefit afforded to A+ eligible students with higher family incomes, enabling them to use their Pell grant to continue their studies beyond the term of the A+ scholarship, including in pursuit of a four-year degree.
To learn more, read St. Louis Graduates' testimony in support of House Bill 498 sponsored by Rep. Kevin Windham which would make A+ a first-dollar scholarship program.
Tuition Equity for Undocumented Students
Students who grow up in Missouri and graduate from Missouri high schools with the intent to enroll in Missouri postsecondary institutions should be able to do so without being penalized if they are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). For the past four years, language has been written into the preamble of the higher education budget requiring the state’s higher education institutions charge these students at out-of-state or international tuition rates. Students with DACA status should be able to pay the same in-state tuition rate as their fellow high school graduates.
Advocating for Equity and Affordability in Missouri Student Financial Aid
St. Louis Graduates was pleased to be invited to participate on the Missouri Student Financial Aid Policy Task Force convened by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education in March. The Task Force's recommendations were presented to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education in June 2018 and prioritized need-based aid and more equitable outcomes in higher education.
The next step in the process was the convening of a State Student Financial Aid Committee comprised of financial aid professionals from institutions across the state. The Committee's charge was to present to CBHE recommended changes to state student aid programs reflecting the policy recommendations of the Task Force. The Committee released its draft recommendations and proposed changes in November.
St. Louis Graduates Advocacy Committee is disappointed the State Student Financial Aid Committee's recommendations and proposed Missouri First program outline released for comment in November do not reflect the policy task force's commitment to need-based aid and equity. Here is St. Louis Graduates' response to the proposed recommendations and program changes.
In 2018, as Missouri faced yet another year of potentially devastating cuts to the state's higher education budget, St. Louis Graduates convened partners in sending a clear message that continued budget cuts are bad policy for students and the state.
Trusting young people to lead: The Active Advocacy Coalition
St. Louis Graduates' advocacy efforts support the work of the Active Advocacy Coalition, which engages Missouri college students in advocating for higher education policies that make college more accessible and more affordable.
The Active Advocacy Coalition was recently recognized as a recipient of Focus St. Louis' What's Right with the Region Award!
Active Advocacy is 3! Read about its formation in a newly published case study.