A FEW COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What does signing the "A+ Participation Agreement" mean?
By signing and submitting the A+ Participation Agreement, students and their parents are simply indicating an interest in the students' participation in the A+ Financial Incentive Program and indicating that they understand the requirements that qualify the students for that program.
2. Does signing this agreement restrict a student’s choices?
Signing the agreement DOES NOT in any way restrict a student’s educational choices. The A+ Schools Program is designed to provide greater opportunities for students. Signing this agreement will not restrict the options available to a student while in high school or upon graduation from high school.
3. What happens when a student signs a participation agreement?
When an agreement has been signed by all parties and returned, a file will be established for that student and will be located in the A+ coordinator’s office. This file denotes the student’s active participation in the A+ Schools Program and will contain all pertinent information relative to the student’s eligibility for A+ incentive funds.
4. When does a student sign up for the program?
There are no specific windows for signing the agreement. It can be done at any time as long as the student realizes that he/she must have sufficient time to complete the student eligibility requirements, specifically the completion of 50 hours of tutoring and mentoring activities. Typically, the vast majority of students will want to sign their agreement form and get started with the tutoring and mentoring activities immediately upon beginning the sophomore year. Students may, however, sign up at anytime and begin working to meet the student eligibility requirements.
5. What if a student signs a participation agreement and then decides to attend a four-year college/university?
There are no repercussions for signing a participation agreement and completing the student eligibility requirements.
Many students will develop plans to attend a four-year institution of higher education following high school. The A+ incentive funds provided through the A+ Schools Program, however, MAY NOT be applied to costs associated with a four-year college or university. Qualifying students may choose to attend, for example, a community college for two years, earn an Associate’s Degree, or simply earn basic credit hours, and then transfer those credits to a four-year college/university at the end of two years at the community college. As the costs of higher education continue to rise, more and more students are beginning their college careers in this manner. The A+ Schools Program does provide financial assistance in this process.
If for whatever reason an A + eligible student should withdraw from the four-year institution with at least a 2.5 GPA, he/she could enroll at a Missouri public community college or vocational-technical school and be eligible for A+ incentive funding.
6. What if a student signs a participation agreement and then decides not to attend a community college or vocational school?
Signing the participation agreement in no way restricts a student’s post high school career or educational opportunities. It is simply a funding resource for postsecondary education should the student choose to utilize it. The current trend of postsecondary educational institutions is to ask on the admissions application for community service/volunteer activities performed, so this would serve as an excellent opportunity to complete these requirements. In addition, someone once said, "It is better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it. " A student who signs a participation agreement is not required to attend a community college, vocational or technical school.
7. Does signing a participation agreement guarantee that a student will receive the tuition reimbursement?
There are at least three factors that will impact the availability of tuition reimbursement to a particular student. First, the high school from which the student graduates must meet and maintain all the requirements for A+ Schools designation. Second, state funding must be available. As with any state program, the A+ Schools Program is subject to the political process of developing and adopting a budget. Third, the student must meet all the criteria outlined in the A+ Schools Program and the participation agreement that the student signed.
If a district achieves A+ designation in the spring of any given year, the graduating class that year would be eligible for the A+ financial incentive’s. This is a DESE goal, but state funding is not guaranteed.
8. What financial incentives are available through the A+ Schools Program?
Once a high school has attained A+ designation, all A+ eligible graduates are eligible for the cost of tuition, course required books, and general fees assessed all full-time students at any Missouri public community college, vocational or technical school. This funding is available to the student for two years (6 semesters). In an age of soaring post-secondary education costs, this represents a tremendous opportunity for the young people of our state.
9. How does a student quality for the A+ Schools Program?
A participation agreement delineating the criteria which must be met in order to be eligible for the A+ financial incentives shall be completed and signed by each student to indicate their interest in the A+ Schools Program. To qualify for A+ incentive funds, a student must have attended an A+ designated high school for three years immediately prior to graduation and:
- maintain at least a 6.875 grade point average on an 11 point scale or 2.5 on a 4.0 scale,
- maintain a 95 percent attendance average over a four-year period,
- provide 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring,
- maintain a record of good citizenship, and
- avoid the unlawful use of drugs.
The incentive funds are available for eligible students for two years (6 semesters) during the four-year period immediately following graduation. The student must maintain a cumulative 2.5 GPA (4.O scale) and be a full-time student.
10. For the purpose of the A+ Schools Program, what do good citizenship and the avoidance of unlawful drugs mean?
Guidelines to identify good citizenship are developed by the local school district. Students may also be required to sign, an affidavit indicating their avoidance of drugs as described in the A+ qualifications.
11. If a student enrolls at an A+ designated high school after the beginning of the 10th grade is he/she eligible to participate in the A+ Schools Program?
The rules and regulations of the A+ School Program state that a student must attend a designated A+ high school for three years immediately prior to graduation. If there are grades from the current year (sophomore) that will transfer with the student, the student would not be eligible for the A+ Schools Program.
12. Does a student qualify for A+ incentive funding if his/her high school GPA upon graduation is 2.45 (on a 4.0 scale) and/or the student’s average attendance rate for the last three years is 94.5 percent?
No - The A+ Schools Program does not permit rounding up of the GPA percents. The average attendance rate must be figured over a four-year period and must be a solid 95 percent.
13. What are the guidelines for tutoring and mentoring? When can a student begin? Where may tutoring activities be performed?
Remember these basic points. Tutoring should be academic in nature and always be supervised by district staff. Tutoring may be for students younger, older or the some age as the student and may be performed before, during or after the school day or during summer school. Tutoring activities must occur in a district-based setting. All activities are to be unpaid. Verification of activities is required and completion of all forms is the responsibility of the student performing the tutoring or mentoring service.
14. What evidence will a student have to indicate his/her eligibility for A+ Schools incentive funds?
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provides designated A+ high schools with an embossing seal. A student eligible for A+ Schools incentive funds can request that the high school provide the post-secondary education institution an official high school transcript that has been stamped with the embossing seal.
15. How do you know if a student was previously enrolled in an institution of higher education (four-year or postsecendary)?
An indication that this may have occurred would be a time lapse between the individuals high school graduation date and enrollment at your post-secondary institution. If one or more semesters have elapsed since the individual graduated from high school, the institution should require the student to sign a document to indicate this is the first enrollment effort in an institution of higher education. A financial aid transcript may also be evidence of previous post-secondary enrollment.
16. Is a student still eligible for A+ incentive funds if upon graduation from high school he/she elects to attend a four-year institution and, for whatever reason(s), leaves the four-year institution to enroll in a community college or adult vocational program?
One of the purposes of the A+ Schools Program is to encourage high schools to work with students to help them select appropriate career paths. The intent of the A+ Schools Program is to encourage students to determine a career, select appropriate training and enter the labor market. A student transferring from a four-year institution into a two-year institution must transfer with a 2.5 GPA.
17. Can an A+ eligible student who enrolls in a one-year LPN Program transfer into a RN program?
A student who enrolls and successfully completes an LPN program would be eligible to pursue an RN program provided the Institution offering the LPN program has developed a bridge (articulation agreement) with a public post-secondary institution offering the RN program. A student is eligible for six (6) semesters of paid tuition, course-required books and general fees. Only the remaining semesters not used to complete the LPN program could be utilized for the RN program.
18. Is a student who is unable to generate the number of required credit hours prescribed by the institution for a full time student still eligible for A+ incentive funds? (because of a required internship or clinical experience in a given program area)
A student who enrolls full time in a program which requires the successful completion of an internship or clinical experience is eligible for A+ incentive funds for this portion of the program. The student must meet the post-secondary institution’s definition of full-time enrollment.
19. Are students with disabilities eligible for A+ Schools incentive funds? What kind of documentation must a student provide the postsecondary institution as evidence of the disability that could allow the number of credit hours to be reduced and the students still be counted as a full-time student at that institution?
A student with disabilities is eligible for A+ Schools incentive funds. They are the same as any other student entering a post-secondary program. The post-secondary institution enrolling the student is responsible for determining the extent of the student’s disability and financial support will be based on that evaluation. The post-secondary institution when requesting reimbursement for a student with disabilities should identify the student as one with special accommodations and enrolled for fewer credit hours than those prescribed by the institution for full-time students because of a disability.
20. Do developmental courses taken at the community college during the student’s first year of enrollment count for the purpose of meeting the full-time enrollment requirements?
It is the responsibility of the post-secondary institution in which the student enrolls to determine whether or not the individual's program equates to a full-time load as prescribed by the institution.
In the event a student who has taken developmental courses transfers from one community college to another, it will be the responsibility of the institution from which the student transfers to document that the student program equated to a full-time load as prescribed by that institution.
21. What expenses does the A+ Schools Program cover for eligible students attending a public post-secondary institution or adult vocational program?
Incentive funds available to eligible students through the A+ Schools Program cover the full cost of tuition, the full cost of textbooks required for the courses in which a student enrolls (no supplemental textbooks) and fees that are assessed all full-time students. Program specific fees such as professional licensing fees, clinical uniforms, pins, association dues, tools, supply items, etc. - ARE NOT reimbursed through the A + Schools Program.
22. Are students eligible for A+ incentive funds when they transfer from one high school to another?
The law requires a student complete three years immediately prior to graduation in an designated A+ high school This can be a combination of schools so long as the schools involved are A+ designated high schools. The high school which the student exits and the high school the student enters must both be A+ designated high schools in order for the student to be eligible for A+ Incentive funds upon graduation.
23. In order to maintain the A+ School 95 percent attendance requirement can students use after school hours and Saturdays to make up time for absences from school?
Only those days/times, which the district can use to count student ADA, can be used to determine the 95 percent attendance requirement. Student ADA counts cannot utilize student attendance on Saturdays or during after school hours. Student attendance is based on Monday through Friday when school is in session, from the district’s official beginning hour and minute to the official day’s ending hour and minute.
24. What will the Department’s position be if it is discovered that a student has been designated A+ eligible and, for whatever reason, should not have received this designation?
In the future, as the A+ Schools Program is maintained, the department will institute audits for a select number of high schools. Should it be discovered that a high school did not utilize actual figures to declare a student eligible for A+ Schools incentive funds, in all likelihood, the district would become responsible for the charges paid out by the Department for ineligible students from that high school.
25. What is the policy with regard to the grade point averages figured for weighted classes and/or point scales other than the 4.0?
For the purpose of the A+ Schools Program, a student’s GPA must be 2.5 or better figured on a 4.0 scale. It is, therefore, the designated high schools responsibility to convert any recorded grades that include weighted classes and/or are figured on a point value other than 4.0.
26. What is the policy for students who may became injured in an accident or sustain a long-time illness either of which preclude the student from meeting the required 95 percent attendance rate?
The A+ Schools Program makes provision for counting students who may not be attending classes because of an accident or extended illness. In order that a student not be penalize for circumstances which are beyond his/her control, it will be the responsibility of the school to make application for homebound instruction for the student. If a student can be counted for ADA, the homebound instruction can be counted toward the required 95 percent attendance rate.
27. Is a student eligible for A+ incentive funds if he/she is provided orientation to the A+ Schools Program during the planning session prior to entering high school but, for what ever reason, does not decide to take advantage and sign up for the program until his/her junior year by which time he/she has a drug conviction on record?
If the drug issue was addressed at the orientation meeting prior to the student entering high school, the student would not be eligible for A+ incentive funds.
28. Is job shadowing a component of the A+ Schools concept?
Job shadowing can be used as a tool to help students explore careers which might be of interest to them.
29. What role does the school play in incorporating job shadowing activities in the A+ Schools Program?
If job shadowing is to be utilized as a means to help students explore careers, the school should develop procedures by which students know how to sign up for job shadowing activities, know what is expected of them as a student, what the student responsibilities are concerning this activity, and how they, as a student, receive credit for the job shadowing activities.
The school is responsible for identifying community leaders willing to work with students in job shadowing activities. Persons who provide job shadowing activities should be in formed as to the expected role they will play as leaders in the job shadow activities. Students should not be sent for job shadowing activities unless appropriate instruction has been planned for them.
Job shadowing does not count toward the required 50 hours of tutoring and/or mentoring.
30. Can cadet teaching be counted toward the required 50 hours of tutoring?
Cadet teaching involves much more than just teaching. Only that portion of the cadet teaching assignment that provides a one-on-one tutoring exercise can be counted toward the A+ Schools Program’s required 50 hours of tutoring.
31. Can schools give high school credit to students for cadet teaching?
The Department takes no position on this issue and does not object to the school awarding credit for cadet teaching.
32. Is data for three or four years used when determining a student’s eligibility for the A+ schools incentive funds?
Beginning the fall of 1998, a student must attend an A+ designated high school for three years immediately prior to graduation. All other student eligibility requirements (GPA, attendance, citizenship and the avoidance of illegal drugs and alcohol) are to be figured over a four-year time span. The required 50 hours of tutoring can also be completed over a four-year time span.
33. If a student who is eligible for A+ incentive funds graduates at the end of the first semester of their senior year, can A+ incentive funds be assessed the semester immediately following?
If a student has completed three years of continuous enrollment prior to graduation he/she becomes eligible to access A+ Schools incentive funds when the senior class that year graduates in the spring. The summer session following the high schools prescribed graduation date is the first session in which the student can enroll with financial assistance through the A+ Schools Program.
34. Do tuition/books/fees, for seminar classes offered by a post-secondary institution which are not part of the A+ Schools student’s chosen career path qualify for reimbursements?
Seminar classes which are not required to complete a students chosen career pathway are not eligible for reimbursement through the A+ Schools Program. Inter-session classes which are part of a student’s degree/certificate program do qualify for reimbursement.
35. Has a law been passed to exempt textbooks for sales tax?
Section 1. In addition to the exemptions granted pursuant to section 144.030, RSMo, there shall also be exempted from state sales and use taxes all sales of text books, as defined by section 170.051, RSMo, when such textbook is purchased at a bookstore located on the premises of any post-secondary institution of higher learning for use by a student who possesses proof of current enrollment at any public or private university, college or other postsecondary institution of higher learning offering a course of study leading to a degree in a liberal arts, humanities or sciences or in a professional, vocational or technical field. This exemption shall not apply to any locally imposed sales or use tax. [SB 936 - Truly agreed to and finally passed]
36. What must a student do to retain eligibility at the community college?
A individual must be enrolled as a full-time student and maintain, as a minimum, a 2.5 cumulative GPA.
37. Can a student enrolled at a four-year institution take courses at a community college during the summer terms, for the purpose of accelerating the degree program at the four-year institution, receive A+ incentive funds?
No. - Students who enroll at a community college must be seeking a certificate or degree offered by the community college.
38. Can a student enroll in and attend two eligible post-secondary institutions simultaneously?
Yes. - The institution granting the certificate or degree would claim the student for reimbursement purposes.
39. Can a student who during high school enrolls in classes for dual credit be reimbursed through the A+ Schools program for the post-secondary credit?
No. - A student’s eligibility becomes effective following high school graduation. However, an individual enrolled in dual credit courses should check with DESE Division of Instruction, regarding reimbursement for the post-secondary credit through Advanced Placement.
40. Is a student required to submit a federal financial aid application before A+ incentive funds are available to the student for tuition, course-required books and general fees?
Yes. - The law governing the A+ Schools Program requires all students to make a good faith effort to first secure all available federal sources of funding that could be applied to the reimbursement of tuition, course-required books and general fees assessed all full-time students.