Bright Flight Program

The Missouri Higher Education Academic Scholarship Program is a merit-based program that encourages top-ranked high school seniors to attend approved Missouri postsecondary schools.

Potential Program Changes:

The Missouri General Assembly is currently considering House Bill 1308 that would make two changes to the existing Bright Flight program.  This bill is still moving through the legislative process and has not been finalized.  If it does not pass, the Bright Flight scholarship program will continue in its current form.  If the General Assembly passes the legislation and the Governor signs it, the changes will be implemented based on the schedule contained in the bill.

The first set of changes would add new eligibility requirements relating to scores achieved in high school on certain end-of-course exams and would require students to complete a certain number of credit hours each year to renew their eligibility.  The implementation of the end-of-course requirements are delayed until 2017 but the credit hour requirement would take effect during the 2014-2015 academic year.  If this legislation passes, renewal students would be required to complete 30 credit hours during the 2014-2015 academic year to be eligible to renew the scholarship for the following year (2015-2016).

The second change is the addition of a forgiveable loan component to the Bright Flight program. The bill would authorize loans of up to $5,000 per academic year to Bright Flight recipients that elect to accept the loan.  The actual annual loan amount might be lower to ensure the student’s total financial aid package does not exceed cost of attendance.  Students could borrow up to $20,000 as undergraduate students.  To qualify for loan forgiveness students would be required to find employment in Missouri within one year after graduation.  For each 12 months of employment in Missouri, the loan for one academic year would be forgiven.  Students that elect not to comply with the employment requirements or otherwise fail to meet them will be required to pay the outstanding loan balance with interest.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

Initial Students

  • Be a Missouri resident and a United States citizen or permanent resident.
  • Have a composite score on the ACT or SAT in either:
    • the top 3 percent of all Missouri students taking those tests, or
    • the top 4th or 5th percentiles of all Missouri students taking those tests.

The qualifying score must be achieved by the June test date immediately following your graduation from high school. (Only composite test scores achieved on national test dates or on special test dates approved by the testing companies are acceptable. Test scores from residual tests are not acceptable.)

  • Enroll as a first-time student and receive the scholarship in the academic year immediately following high school graduation, receipt of your General Education Development certificate, or completion of your secondary coursework, if home-schooled.
  • Enroll full time at a participating Missouri school. (Students with disabilities who are enrolled in at least six credit hours may be considered to be enrolled full time.)
  • Submit supplemental eligibility information, if requested, by the deadline established by the MDHE.
  • Not be pursuing a degree or certificate in theology or divinity.

Renewal Students

  • Continue to meet the eligibility requirements for initial students.
  • Receive the scholarship at least one semester each academic year, beginning with the academic year immediately following your senior year in high school, receipt of the GED, or completion of your secondary coursework, if home-schooled.
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 and otherwise maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school. If this is the first academic year in which you have received a Bright Flight payment, this requirement does not apply.


Individuals who have graduated from Missouri’s virtual public school, have completed a home-school program or have obtained a certificate of high school equivalence by passing the GED exam may be considered for the scholarship program. GED students must submit a copy of their GED certificate to:

Missouri Department of Higher Education
Attn: Bright Flight
P.O. Box 1469
Jefferson City, MO 65102-1469

What is the qualifying score and how much can I receive?

The qualifying ACT and SAT scores for students who will graduate in the current academic year are re-evaluated and announced each fall. These qualifying scores are based on the scores of students who were high school seniors in the previous academic year. For example, the 2014-2015 qualifying scores are based on the test results of all 2013 Missouri high school seniors. Because the minimum score is set by a percent of test takers, that score is subject to change annually.

If you took the ACT or SAT as a high school junior or sophomore, your score will be accepted as long as it meets the qualifying score(s) announced during your senior year in high school.

The following tables display the qualifying ACT and SAT scores for 2014 high school graduates (attending college during the 2014-2015 academic year), along with the statutory maximum awards.  The actual award amount is dependent on the amount of funds allocated for the program during the 2014 legislative session.    Final award amounts are typically set in August each year.

ACT Score


Critical Readingand Math Scores

Statutory Maximum Award Amount

Estimated Award Amount

31 or above

800 and 800

Up to


ACT Score


Critical Reading and Math Scores

Statutory Maximum Award Amount

Estimated Award Amount


770-799 and 770-799

Up to $1,000


Award amounts are not available during summer terms.

How can I apply?

There is no Bright Flight application to complete. The MDHE will receive your ACT or SAT composite score(s), along with approved Missouri college or university choices, from your ACT or SAT assessment records. It takes approximately six to eight weeks after each national test date for the MDHE to receive assessment information.

How will I know if I am eligible?

Eligible students will receive approval letters from the MDHE for qualifying scores achieved by the June ACT and SAT test dates. Information about your eligibility status is also available by logging into the MDHE Student Portal.  You must elect to upgrade your access in the portal to view your eligibility information.

You will be notified if you did not indicate any Missouri school choices or if you provided conflicting information (for example, information indicating you are a Missouri resident but not a U.S. citizen). To safeguard your eligibility, we recommend that you always choose at least one approved Missouri school when you take the ACT or SAT, even if you plan to attend school in another state.

If you have upgraded your account in the MDHE Student Portal, you can choose to receive these notices as well as the approval letter in electronic or paper format.

The following deadlines apply to changes to your eligibility record with the MDHE:

If you are a 2014 high school graduate

Completion of the FAFSA is not required to receive a Bright Flight scholarship. However, if you elect to complete a FAFSA, information on that application or updates to it can impact your eligibility for Bright Flight even if you have previously been notified of your eligibility. Use the MDHE Student Portal to check your current eligibility status.

If you do not provide all necessary information to the MDHE by the deadline, you will be considered a late applicant and your award will be subject to funding availability, even if you have previously received an approval letter.

How will I receive my award?

Each semester the school you are attending will certify your eligibility. The certification process occurs electronically in real-time. Schools typically certify eligibility at the beginning of each semester, although they can do so through the end of the semester.

If your school certifies you are eligible, the MDHE will disburse your award within 3-5 business days of the certification. Your school will then deliver it to you.Delivery timeframes can vary from school to school.

How long can I renew my scholarship?

The scholarship may be renewed annually for up to 10 semesters or until you have completed a bachelor's degree, whichever occurs first.

How do I transfer my scholarship?

If you choose to transfer to a different participating Missouri school, either between academic years or semesters, you must contact the MDHE at (800) 473-6757, option 4. Failure to notify the MDHE of the transfer may result in loss of the scholarship.

Can the scholarship be deferred?

If you are unable to attend school for an entire academic year you may qualify for a deferment of your scholarship eligibility. Acceptable reasons for deferment include:

You may defer your scholarship eligibility for up to 27 continuous months for participation in a high school student exchange program, service in a nonprofit organization or a state or federal government agency or for medical reasons. 

You may defer your scholarship eligibility due to service on active duty in the armed forces of the United States for the length of your time of service, as long as you return to full-time status within six months after you first cease service to the armed forces.

You should apply for the deferment as soon as you are aware there will be a break in your attendance. If you are unable to attend school for one semester within an academic year, a deferment of your scholarship eligibility is not necessary.

You must submit a written request for deferment to:

Missouri Department of Higher Education
Attn: Bright Flight
P.O. Box 1469
Jefferson City, MO 65102-1469