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December 08, 2021

Bright Flight Scholarship eligibility score to change for Class of 2023 High School Seniors

MDHEWD to start recognizing ACT superscoring as qualifying composite score


The ACT score requirement for the Higher Education Academic Scholarship, also known as Bright Flight, will be increasing to 32 for students graduating from high school in 2023. Since 2008, students have needed a score of 31 or above on the ACT to receive the maximum $3,000 award.

The Bright Flight scholarship is a merit-based program that’s been in existence since 1986.  In accordance with Missouri statutes, eligibility is based on a “composite score on the ACT or the SAT achieved in an eligible student's high school sophomore, junior, or senior year that is in the top five percent of Missouri test-takers, as established at the beginning of an eligible student's final year of secondary coursework.”

There were 45,530 high school senior test takers in 2021. The top 3 percent has moved from a score of 31 to a score of 32, while the fourth and fifth percentiles have moved to a 30 and 31. The ACT Bright Flight qualifying score had been a 30 for more than 20 years prior to it changing to a 31 in 2008.

Students must achieve a score on the ACT or SAT in the top 3 percent of test takers in order to receive a maximum annual award, which is $3,000.  Students scoring in the top fourth and fifth percentiles are eligible for an award of up to $1,000. The final award amounts are dependent on the amount of funds allocated for the program during each legislative session.  The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development awarded more than $17.6 million to 7,840 Bright Flight recipients during FY 2021.

“High school students graduating in Spring 2023 will have approximately 18 months to prepare for this change and improve their test scores, if needed,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education. “Renewal students that received a payment before the 2022-2023 academic year, are not impacted by this change.”

In addition to the change in ACT eligibility scoring, the department plans to begin accepting superscores to qualify students for Bright Flight beginning with the 2022-2023 high school seniors. A superscore is the average of the four best subject scores (English, math, reading and science) across all ACT tests taken by an individual. Consequently, a student must have scores from at least two test administrations for ACT to calculate a superscore.

Earlier this year ACT announced it will provide an automatically calculated ACT superscore to all test takers. Since a superscore is considered a “composite” score, this approach remains consistent with the statutory definition of a qualifying score.

The department has not yet received the information necessary to determine the qualifying SAT scores for the 2023 seniors from the College Board, but due to the small number of students taking the SAT, any score change should not impact students that qualify with only an SAT score.

Find more information about the Bright Flight scholarship visit, https://dhewd.mo.gov/ppc/grants/brightflight.php.


About the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development: The department works to empower Missourians with the skills and education needed for success. More information about MDHEWD can be found at https://dhewd.mo.gov or on Facebook and Twitter @MoDHEWD.