Gov. Jay Nixon recently announced that he was releasing about $8.5 million in funds for higher education that he previously withheld.

Following the release of the state's January 2013 general revenue report, Nixon made available $8,476,559 for public higher education institutions in Missouri for the current fiscal year, which runs through June.

The state's January 2013 general revenue report showed that fiscal year-to-date net general revenue collections increased 9.5 percent compared to 2012. Net general revenue collections for January 2013 increased by 18.4 percent compared to those for January 2012.

In a press release from the governor's office, Nixon said the general revenue report "reflects these positive trends and allows us to make this additional funding available for higher education institutions and other programs. By making sure government lives within its means, we will continue to prepare students for 21st century careers and keep our economy moving forward."

Of the nearly $8.5 million for higher education institutions, $1,308,153 will go to community colleges and $7,122,238 will go to four-year institutions.

The University of Missouri is set to receive $3,980,006 of the total funds. A breakdown per UM campus is not available yet.

East Central College, a community college with a campus in Rolla, is set to receive $50,353 for this fiscal year.

During the ECC board of trustees meeting Monday night, college president Dr. Jon Bauer said the $50,353 boosts the college's funding to nearly the full level state lawmakers budgeted last year.

The funding for higher education institutions, which amounts to about 1 percent of their state allotments, had been blocked until Monday by Nixon since the state budget took effect last summer.

The current ECC budget was drawn up based on an estimated 8 percent reduction in state aid. Bauer noted that the release of the funds was welcome news for the college.

"This is another indicator that the economy continues to recover," Bauer said. "We appreciate the governor's action. He understands the importance of state aid to our operations and acted swiftly when it was clear that the state was in a position to restore this important funding."

Also on Monday, the governor made available $100,000 for the Missouri State Historical Society, housed at the University of Missouri, and $480,000 to fund three programs for foster care and children in need.

Even with Monday's decision, Nixon still has a block on nearly $6 million of budgeted expenditures, including several programs for K-12 schools and various social services. He said funding decisions for those programs could depend on state revenues over the next 15-30 days.

"These are good numbers, don't get me wrong, but we want to make sure that they will continue to push on through the rest of the fiscal year," Nixon said at a news conference in his Capitol office.

Figures from the state Office of Administration show net general collections totaled $4.54 billion from July through January, compared to $4.15 billion during the same period last year — a $395 million increase over the previous fiscal year.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.