Online University-Scholarships story

Missouri higher education officials are backing off an attempt to make scholarships available to students at an online university, after the proposal drew opposition from some traditional institutions and sparked plans for a legislative hearing.

A joint House and Senate panel had been scheduled to meet Wednesday to consider blocking a proposed rule change for scholarship eligibility that would have redefined what it means for an institution to be "located in Missouri." The intent was to make Access Missouri scholarships available to students at Western Governors University-Missouri, an online-only school.

But the hearing was canceled Tuesday after the Department of Higher Education withdrew the proposed rule change. A memo from the department to the legislative committee said the agency wants to "provide additional time to discuss the issues further with interested parties."

Gov. Jay Nixon had directed the agency to ensure WGU-Missouri students could receive state financial aid when he signed an executive order in February 2013 establishing a Missouri branch of the online university, which is based in Salt Lake City.

The rule change was opposed by the Independent Colleges and Universities of Missouri, a collection of 21 private institutions. That group contends that any scholarship changes should require passage of a law, not merely a rule by a state agency. It also has raised concerns that other out-of-state institutions could use of the scholarships, thus expanding the pool of eligible recipients and ultimately resulting in a smaller amount of aid available for each student. .. Read more here



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