Changes could be coming for the Access Missouri college scholarship program. The House has approved changes designed to help students keep the scholarship and equalize the amounts awarded.

One change makes it easier for freshmen and sophomores to keep the scholarship. It lowers the GPA requirement to 2.0 on a 4-point scale. The requirement rises back to 2.5 during the junior year.

The other change equalizes the scholarship amount: $2,850 a year for both private and public college students.

Rep. Tim Flook (R-Liberty), though, said equalization is in the eye of the beholder. He told colleagues private college students deserve more, because their tuition is higher.

“And I push back on anybody who wants to demonize a Missouri citizen who would just like to have another choice and have a little bit of equalization to what the state’s already subsidizing for the public schools,” Flook said during House floor debate.

Yet Rep. Joe Aull (D-Marshall) called this a good compromise.

“I’m sure the non-public schools are not real happy. They’re seeing their student amount lowered a little bit. I’m sure the public schools are not completely happy. They liked to see the provision implemented a little bit quicker, but we’re meeting in the middle,” Aull said during debate. “And a lot of time when we meet in the middle, a compromise is pretty good and I think that’s what this is.”

At present, Access Missouri gives a maximum of $4,600 a year to private college students and $2,150 a year to public schools. The maximum award for those attending a community college would increase from $1,000 to $1,300. If approved by the legislature, changes wouldn’t take effect for five years.

The legislation is HCS HB 1473.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:30 MP3]