On Monday, Attorney General Jay Nixon announced a higher education plan that he says would provide a way for middle-class Missouri students to earn a four-year degree tuition-free.
Nixon, a Democratic candidate for governor, said his Missouri Promise plan would create a path to a four-year degree for students who satisfy certain academic, community service and financial need requirements.
Students who complete a two-year associate’s degree at a Missouri community college or technical school under the state’s existing A+ Schools Program and meet criteria would be eligible to seek a Missouri Promise scholarship to cover college or university costs, Nixon said.
"With tuition skyrocketing at colleges and universities across the state, too many middle-class families in Missouri are getting squeezed by the cost of a college education," Nixon said in a prepared statement.
"While other states have been making college more affordable and accessible, Missouri has moved backwards. The Missouri Promise will create a pathway to a four-year degree for those families struggling to afford college tuition during these difficult economic times. We must make the dream of a college education a reality for all Missouri families."
Nixon said in order to implement the Missouri Promise, he’d expand the existing A+ program, which is currently available to only half the state’s high school students.
He said he’d also offer high school seniors who plan to access the A+ program the chance to sign the Missouri Promise contract between the student and the state.
Expanding the A+ program and implementing the Missouri Promise would cost about $61 million, said Nixon, citing estimates from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Nixon said his initiative is intended to target middle-class Missouri families who can’t afford college tuition. A family of four with one child in college could have an annual income of roughly $80,000 and qualify for the Missouri Promise.
Nixon outlined the plan during a news conference at the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus. He also planned to announce his initiative at stops in Columbia and Kansas City later Monday.