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July 08, 2022

Bright Flight increase to include awards for 4th and 5th percentile for first time in program’s history

2018-2022 seniors scoring 30 on their ACT may be eligible for award payments


The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development will be issuing Bright Flight awards to potentially thousands of additional students after a funding increase made to the FY 2023 budget signed last week by Gov. Mike Parson. The Missouri Higher Education Academic Scholarship Program, known as Bright Flight, has historically awarded scholarships to students scoring in the top 3 percent of ACT test takers. Statutory provisions require those students must be fully funded at $3,000 per year, before any payments are made to the students scoring in the 4th and 5th percentiles. The FY 2023 budget increases the amount the department has to spend for this program by $3.5 million, enough that Class of 2022 seniors scoring a 30 on the ACT will be eligible for an award of up to $1,000 this year.

Any Class of 2018 to Class of 2021 seniors who also scored a 30 on their ACT, may be eligible as well. Bright Flight is a renewable scholarship for students who maintain eligibility for up to 10 semesters or until a student completes their bachelor’s degree, whichever occurs first. Students in the 4th and 5th percentiles who have maintained eligibility and are still enrolled at a Missouri college or university will be eligible for an award, also up to $1,000, this year.

“This type of funding increase is exciting,” Leroy Wade, interim commissioner of higher education said. “However, we need help from both our colleges and universities, and from these eligible students in order to make these payments happen.”

The MDHEWD needs to know where these eligible students are currently enrolled in order to issue the scholarships to their student accounts. The best way to help the department understand this information is for all Class of 2018-2022 seniors who scored a 30 on their ACT to log on to the Missouri State Student Financial Aid Portal and to update their number one school choice to their current college or university. The MDHEWD will also be reaching out to potentially eligible students as well as institutions to ask for their help in communicating with their students that fit these eligibility requirements.

Students can find the link to the Student Portal at journeytocollege.mo.gov or go directly to the site at https://web.dhewd.mo.gov/studentportal/. Students who have not logged on in recent months may be asked to reset their passwords. From the homepage of the portal, users can select the “My School Choices” from the top menu bar. They’ll need to select the academic year 2022-2023, and then select the school in which they’ll be enrolled this year from the dropdown selection, hitting “Add school” and then “Save” before navigating from that page. 

Funding for the 4th and 5th percentile test takers has never happened in the history of the program. Whether or not the increased funding will continue will be subject to appropriation next year.