A report released today by St. Louis based student advocacy group Active Advocacy Coalition says the state’s merit based scholarships, known as Bright Flight, are mostly given to white students, those in private and wealthier public schools and larger metropolitan areas. Report co-author Karissa Anderson wants Bright Flight restructured.

“Bright Flight is supposed to be a statewide scholarship, but it’s really a where did you go to high school scholarship,” said Anderson. “With our ambitious goals as a state, our workforce needs and the needs in our community, we can’t use scholarship money in this manner.”


Report: Missouri scholarship program has racial, economic and geographical inequities

“We feel that the way the current program is structured leaves out many talented students from all across the state of Missouri,” said Anderson. “We really are here to support students that have potential, that are smart, that have the desire to go onto college and succeed but they don’t have the financial resources.”

The Coalition wants Bright Flight to either be restructured or eliminated. Anderson suggests scholarships be given to low-income students and awarded based mainly on a student’s GPA, not just ACT test scores.

Its recommendation to eliminate Bright Flight includes redirecting the program’s funding to Missouri’s need based scholarship program, known as Access Missouri.

Co-author Amber Overton said students must score at least a 31 on their ACT tests to qualify.

“Missouri has almost 800 high schools, but with the way the program is currently structured, 20 high schools are receiving almost one-third of the program’s fund. That’s just really telling to us,” said Overton.

Access Missouri serves more than 50,000 students with the average scholarship amount of $1850. Bright Flight serves about 6,000 students with the average scholarship being $3,000. Bright Flight received $22 million in funding last year and Access Missouri received about $70 million.