I am writing to ask for your help in saving state-supported financial aid for 15,500 Missouri students, including many at William Woods University. If our students lose this aid and are forced to go elsewhere for their education, it could be devastating to WWU and the Fulton community.
With the current budget challenges the state is facing, Governor Jay Nixon and some of our state lawmakers are trying to balance the budget on the backs of our students. The financial aid for William Woods students is under attack on several different fronts.
Last week Governor Nixon proposed cutting all financial aid money to Missouri students attending private colleges and universities from the need-based Access Missouri fund and the Bright Flight scholarships that keep the best and brightest in our state.
Yet at the same time, his plan would protect financial aid money for students attending public colleges. This discriminatory treatment of taxpayers and their children who make the choice of a private school education is both shocking and disappointing.
Governor Nixon’s proposal would make Missouri the only state in the nation that prohibits financial aid to students attending independent colleges. This is not the kind of No. 1 ranking Missouri wants.
Between the two local campuses (WWU and Westminster), more than 600 students would lose their Access Missouri support or Bright Flight scholarships. The result of such an action would either make it impossible for students to continue their higher education or drive them to schools in another state or to Missouri public colleges and universities that are already overcrowded and underfunded themselves.
If higher education is critical to Missouri’s economic future, which the Governor has said it is, then threatening support for higher education is bad public policy.
Private colleges and universities, like William Woods, provide an enormous public good at no public cost. If all of the students attending independent colleges moved over to the public sector it would cost state taxpayers more than $700 million. It would be a tremendous burden to our already financially drained state to shift the approximately 15,550 students who attend private institutions to the public sector.
Beyond the Governor’s proposal, the House Budget Committee is considering slashing $13 million in funding from Access Missouri. Since the legislature has chosen not to raise Access Missouri funding since its inception three years ago and more people are qualifying for scholarships funds every year, this action would be devastating to our students as well.
Many students are not going to be able to borrow their way out of this predicament. They are already borrowing the maximum in federally subsidized loans. Private loans are difficult to obtain due to the banking crisis.
Private and public college presidents have come together to speak out about the importance of state financial aid programs like Access Missouri and Bright Flight. Leaders of the public and private sectors agree that aid should be predictable and not subject to annual political threats. They also agree that state aid should be portable and allow students to choose the institution right for them—public or private.
The higher education community is united in acting to prevent the drastic cuts to financial aid programs that will only harm Missouri’s future.
We need you to take action NOW to protect this need-based financial aid money our students receive.
Please help us save state-funded scholarships by doing the following:
*Let the Governor know you oppose his proposal to eliminate financial aid for Missouri students attending private colleges and universities. Contact Governor Jay Nixon’s office by calling 573-751-3222 or e-mailing him at http://governor.mo.gov/constituents/
*Contact your State Senator and State Representative and ask them to support state-funded financial aid for eligible Missouri students attending private colleges and universities. If you are unsure who they are, you can find them at http://www.keepmeincollege.org/leg_lookup.html.
Your voice does make a difference. Please contact