Senate Bill 997
Senate Bill 997, signed into law in June 2016, contains a number of measures to improve higher education in Missouri. Many of the provisions in the bill support the goals of Missouri’s coordinated plan, Preparing Missourians to Succeed: A Blueprint for Higher Education, approved by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education in January 2016.
The Coordinating Board will establish a process to designate colleges and universities as approved providers of dual-credit classes, which allow high school students to earn college credit while in high school. The certification process will help ensure the quality of dual-credit classes.
The legislation expands the ability of public two-year colleges to offer college courses to high school students to include State Technical College of Missouri. In addition, it establishes a dual-credit scholarship program to assist eligible low-income high school students with tuition costs for dual-credit classes, subject to appropriation by the General Assembly.
The Coordinating Board will work with the state’s public colleges and universities to develop policies that encourage students to complete 15 credit hours per semester to help put students on track to earn an associate degree in two years or a bachelor’s degree in four years. The policies may include providing financial incentives for students who graduate on time.
The Coordinating Board will develop a student website to provide one central point for students and parents to obtain comprehensive information about planning and paying for college, financial aid, the transfer of college credit and other information to help students access higher education and complete a degree.
The Coordinating Board will work with public colleges and universities to create a pilot program to help streamline the path to completing a certificate or degree. The pilot program could include offering structured semester-by-semester sets of courses, more frequent and impactful advising, and other measures that help students make better decisions that will keep them on track to graduate on time.
The Coordinating Board will establish a pilot program that will allow students to enroll in participating two-year and four-year higher education institutions at the same time. The program will provide students with access to a broader range of academic and student support services to help improve degree completion rates.
The Coordinating Board will work with an advisory committee of members from Missouri’s two- and four-year colleges to establish a recommended core curriculum of at least 42 semester credit hours that will transfer to any public college or university in Missouri. The curriculum will cover courses in mathematics, English, communications, humanities, biological and physical science, social science and computer technology.
The legislation also calls for the board to approve a common course matrix for lower-division courses at all public two- and four-year colleges and universities in the state and evaluate the transfer practices at each public college and university. The core curriculum and common course matrix will help streamline the transfer of college credit to help students earn a degree in less time and at less cost.
The Department of Higher Education will provide guidelines for notifying public employees about the existing federal public service loan forgiveness program, which provides an opportunity for full-time employees working for public entities to have a portion of their federal student loans forgiven after making 120 student loan payments while working for a qualifying employer, generally 10 years.
The legislation reauthorizes the Wartime Veterans Survivor Grant scholarship program, which provides financial assistance to the children and spouses of military veterans whose death or injuries were a result of combat action since Sept. 11, 2001. The legislation extends the sunset of this program until 2020.