Reimagining Education

Legislators push to expand MOScholars scholarship program

A slew of bills that would expand the new MOScholars scholarship program are making their way through the Missouri legislature in the final months of the legislative session.

It isn’t easy to pass legislation that has not moved through at least one chamber by the end of the first half of the legislative session, but debating these bills now is still a crucial step in getting them passed in future years.

HB350, which would increase the amount of the scholarship for certain groups, is the first MOScholars bill to get a hearing in the House Education Committee. It will be heard at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29.

Specifically, HB350 would increase the scholarship amount for students with limited English proficiency by 160% over the SAT (the State Adequacy Target, currently $6,375), for students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches 125%, and for special education students by 175% over the SAT.

Other bills that have been filed this year to expand the MOScholars program include:

HB875 — This bill would expand eligibility for the MOScholars scholarship program to include any student who lives in a county that contains any part of the city with a population over 30,000. This would resolve some of the hard barriers in the current program allowing for students who live in metro areas, but not specifically within city limits to apply for scholarships.

HB234 — This bill expands eligibility for the MOScholars program to “any county with at least 100,000 inhabitants”. This would expand the current definition to allow qualified students to reside in Boone, Cass, Franklin, Greene, Jasper, and Platte counties.

HB244 — This bill removes the requirement for students to have attended a public school or be an entering Kindergartner or first-grader in order to qualify for the scholarship, which would allow more existing private school students to apply for the scholarship.

HB332 — This bill is designed to help more students with special needs qualify for MOScholars scholarships. The bill would expand the current definition of a “qualified student” to include those students that have: an evaluation report that qualifies the student for the development of an individualized education program (IEP), an approved 504 plan, or a services plan for parentally placed private school children with disabilities.

In its first year of operation, the MOScholars program has helped thousands of Missouri students find the school of their dreams. Any expansion of the program, whether it be increased funding or increased eligibility, would help even more students escape schools that are failing them and find caring environments to learn in.

Click here, to hear some of the success stories from families benefiting from the MOScholars program this year.

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