Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A New Promise to Missouri Families; Treasurer's Plan; Invest in Our Future by Paying for Students to Attend State's Colleges

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A New Promise to Missouri Families; Treasurer's Plan; Invest in Our Future by Paying for Students to Attend State's Colleges

Article excerpt

The Missouri Promise: If your child gets a 3.0 in high school, performs community service and maintains a 3.0 in college, Missouri will pay tuition and fees for your student to attend Missouri colleges.

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Last month, President Obama proposed a rollback of 529 college savings plan tax benefits, which I opposed. It struck a chord with me and parents all across America because it sent the wrong message. We need to make higher education more affordable for families, not less.

The fact is substantial hurdles to an accessible higher education remain. The biggest obstacle of all is the rising cost, which is approaching insurmountable for many families. Janice and I both graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and even 20 years ago, college was a financial challenge for both of us. However, with the help of scholarships, part-time jobs, and some assistance from mom and dad, we were able to borrow enough to cover the remaining costs and graduate with a manageable debt load. It wasn't easy, but it worked.

Over the past 25 years, the cost for a public college education has nearly tripled, while families' income levels have remained essentially the same. In Missouri, funding for our higher education system is 46 percent less than our neighboring states. Furthermore we rank in the bottom fifth nationally in state funding of higher education, meaning that 80 percent of the country is working harder to send their students to college than we are in Missouri. Needless to say, there is a lot of room for improvement.

For many working families, the cost of college seems so staggering that the possibility of going to school isn't even part of their future plans. The debt college students accrue is dragging down our economy. It is straining young families' pocketbooks, hindering them from buying their first home, starting a business, and preventing many from realizing their dreams.

Something has to change. We need to speak directly to Missouri families.

It should be a foregone conclusion for every Missourian that if you want to go to college, you can. In order for that to happen, we must send a message to families that for anyone willing to work hard and seize opportunity, we will invest in your success. …

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