Missouri A+ program to include 'lawfully present' students - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Missouri A+ program to include 'lawfully present' students

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Certain Missouri students who came to the U.S. illegally before they turned 16 will be able to apply for the state's A+ Program. Certain Missouri students who came to the U.S. illegally before they turned 16 will be able to apply for the state's A+ Program.
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PARK HILLS, MO (KFVS) - The Missouri Department of Higher Education is planning to clarify the types of students eligible to apply for the state's A+ scholarship program.

Those who entered the United States without legal permission before they turned 16 years old will be able to apply if they meet the "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" status.

The A+ program provides two free years of tuition at Missouri community colleges.

The students who have "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" status allows them eligibility for work because they are "lawfully present."  
However, the Department of Higher Education said that also means they are eligible for education benefits as well.

According to the vice president of Mineral Area Community College, Gil Kennon, this change needs to be clarified.

He said right now, those who are not U.S. citizens are not eligible for college scholarship assistance.

"Missouri statute requires all A plus students to apply for the Pell Grant and as of today this is a whole population of that we believe is not eligible for Pell Grants, so what does it do in terms of that," Kennon asked.

Kennon said he expects the Missouri legislature to respond to the change. Until then, he said community colleges will have to wait to move forward.

"I think it's one of those things you kind of take a wait and see attitude and as it develops we will know how to react," Kennon said.

Lawfully present status requires applicants to:
  • have come to this country before age 16,
  • to be 30 or younger as of June 15, 2012,
  • to have lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007,
  • to be enrolled in school or have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, a general education development certificate;
  • to have not been convicted of a felony, "significant misdemeanor" or three or more misdemeanors.
There is not a timeline for when this change will take affect.

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