$106 million budget cut could affect financial aid


When Gov. Jay Nixon gave his State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 10, cuts from higher education were on the list once again.  Gov. Nixon proposed a $508 million cutback from the state’s budget and a $106 million cut from higher education.
His proposal suggested a 12.5 percent cut from last year’s budget for public institutions. However, public school students may not be the only ones affected. It is too early in the budget process to say if financial aid awards for Webster students, like Access Missouri, A+ and Bright Flight, will be affected.
According to Jon Gruett, director of Financial Aid, 370 Webster students received the Access Missouri funds during the Fall 2011 semester. Part of the Access Missouri award is funded by the state and has the potential to be cut.
Jason Schroeder, a sophomore film production major, has received funds from the state of Missouri.
“Receiving the Access Missouri and A + scholarship was one of the big reasons why I got to come here instead of going to community college first,” Schroeder said. “Getting the extra bit of money from Access Missouri was what allowed me to live on campus freshman and sophomore year. Without it, it looked like it would have been cheaper to commute.”
The Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program is need-based. The eligibility to receive funds is decided by the expected family contribution, determined through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The totals of awards given annually differentiate based on a student’s total financial aid package. Lack of funding to Access Missouri would mean less financial aid to all receiving students.
Christopher Poley, research associate from The Department of Higher Education, said although students receiving these awards could be affected, the governor has other plans in mind.
“Gov. Nixon has suggested keeping the same amount of funding available for financial aid awards as there were last year,” Poley said.
Poley said the proposed budget will go through the House, Senate and General Assembly before it is due back on Nixon’s desk on Friday, May 11. He will  either veto or approve the new budget, which will go into effect July 1, 2012.
Forest Wharton, sophomore film production major, received the Presidential scholarship his freshman year, which covers his full tuition. He also received funds from Bright Flight and Access Missouri, which he used instead of taking out student loans.
“Personally, I am quite against student loans,” Wharton said. “Last year I didn’t have to take any out due to the $3,500 I received from the state. It was a great help and I was really glad I didn’t have to take on any student loans.”
Wharton said he was in favor of Gov. Nixon’s current proposal.
“The other state financial aid awards like Access Missouri and Bright Flight have either been earned or needed,” Wharton said.
Many state universities oppose the proposal because they have already trimmed costs. Though Webster students who receive state-funded aid have not been affected yet, the proposed budget has the potential to make those changes as it moves to the House.

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