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Columbia Missourian

Columbia, Stephens students to protest proposed Access, Bright Flight cuts

By Kelly Brdicka
April 8, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Students at Columbia and Stephens colleges plan to write letters to Gov. Jay Nixon Thursday protesting his proposed budget cuts, which would decrease state scholarship funding for private college and university students.

Columbia College senior Michelle Arnold is scheduled to give a testimonial at the event. Arnold, 39, is a mother of three who said she wouldn't be able to continue attending school if her Access Missouri grant was reduced. Still, she plans to graduate in December and doesn't think any cuts will be implemented before then.

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"I'm speaking more for future generations because I'm living first hand what it's like to be on grants and scholarships and loans," she said.

Arnold currently receives $2,200 per semester from the Access Missouri program. She thinks the proposed cuts are an especially poor idea in the current economy.

"Why put more people out on the streets looking for jobs?" she said.

The event at Columbia College will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. Thursday in the Atkins-Holman Student Commons. Students will send their letters to Nixon with a signed banner and also send letters to key legislators. Columbia College President Gerald Brouder will give an opening address.

Joanne Tedesco, spokeswoman for the college, said the event is a "team effort" organized by many divisions of Columbia College.

"We're all still waiting with bated breath on what's going to happen," she said of the proposal.

Stephens College will hold an event from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Stamper Commons, according to a news release.

If passed, private college and university students receiving state scholarships from Access Missouri and Bright Flight programs would lose some or all of that funding, according to a previous Missourian report.

Currently, a public university student can receive up to $2,150 through Access Missouri and a private college or university student can receive up to $4,600. Nixon's proposition would set a maximum grant of $2,850 for all students attending any four-year institution in the state, according to a previous Missourian report.