Dr. Jon Bauer

Dr. Jon Bauer

A Missouri House Committee is considering legislation to offer additional financial assistance to persuade more top college students to stay in the state after Graduation Day.

East Central College President Dr. Jon Bauer said he is interested in the idea because it benefits the state when Missouri students stay and work in the state after graduation.

“That is one of the strengths of the community college system,” Bauer said. “Our students by and large continue to work in the area once they have graduated.”

The legislation would add a forgivable loan of up to $5,000 per academic year to Missouri’s Bright Flight scholarship.

In 2013, the most a student could be awarded through the scholarship program was $2,500 per semester. The scholarship is renewable for 10 semesters or until a student earns a bachelor’s degree.

The actual award amount is dependent on the amount of funds allocated for the program during the legislative session. Final award amounts are typically set in August each year.

Each year a student works in Missouri after school would count toward one year of loan forgiveness. Leaving before the loan is repaid would require repaying the loan with interest.

Bauer said his only concern is that the state continue to fund existing scholarship programs at the appropriate level.

“I would be worried if this proposal would somehow dilute the existing scholarships that our students depend upon,” he said.

Republican House member Mike Thomson, of Maryville, said too many top Missouri students leaving after graduation is what fueled the legislation.

Bright Flight scholarships are awarded based on ACT or SAT scores. East Central College is among the more than 80 colleges that accept the Bright Flight scholarship.

The legislation was examined the last week of January by the House Higher Education Committee.

Gov. Jay Nixon has proposed $17 million in next year’s budget for a Bright Flight loan program.

Some information from this story is from the Associated Press.