In-state residents at Missouri Western have a million or more reasons to be excited about college this fall. Missouri residents will receive an additional $1 million in financial aid for the 2007-2008 school year fromt he new Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program.
On Monday, Aug. 20, Gov. Matt Blunt visited Westernâ€™s campus to celebrate the estimated 1,000 Missouri residents who will receive state financial aid this fall. Last year 196 Missouri Western students received a total of $332,548 in needbased aid from the state. Under Access Missouri, an estimated 927 students will receive approximately $1.3 million.
Access Missouri is a state need-based program that combined Missouriâ€™s two previous programs. The Charles Gallagher Student Financial Assistance and Missouri College Guarantee programs handedout $27.5 million in aid across the state while the Access Missouri program will grant $72.5 million.
â€œThis program will level the playing field for all applicants based off familiesâ€™ abilities to pay for college,â€ Blunt said.
Beth Wheeler, director of external relations said, â€œIâ€™m glad to see the state invested in needbased and merit-based need to students.â€
Senate Bill 389 authorized the additional $45 million in funding towards Missouriâ€™s scholarship programs that was pooled to create one program: Access Missouri. A statewide committee comprised of many financial aid advisors including Westernâ€™s Assistant Director of Financial Aid Angie Beam proposed the program. Each eligible student will receive a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $2,150 a year.
The new program changed the criteria for eligibility to allow more students the opportunity to receive aid. To be eligible for initial or renewed assistance from Access Missouri, students must have their FAFSA completed by April 1 with all corrections made by July 31; they must be enrolled full-time at a participating Missouri school, maintain satisfactory academic progress; and have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $12,000 or less.
â€œOur financial aid office did a great job campaigning to make students turn their FAFSAs in by the priority
deadline to help with the program,â€Wheeler said.
Lisa Siudym, director of financial aid, said she had never had such a program available to the students. â€œI have always looked at financing an education as investment in a studentâ€™s future,â€ Siudym said. â€œThe whole state will benefit
from this program as more students earn their degree and then give back to Missouri by being a positive, productive
Colleges across the state have seen an increased number of students eligible for financial aid from this simplified program.
From a statement on his website, Blunt said, â€œFamilies across our state are concerned about their childrenâ€™s future because of the rising cost of college tuition. We must do all we can to ensure that every Missourian has access to college so that they can obtain a world class education.â€
Blunt has made numerous appearances on Westernâ€™s campus over the past year in regards to funding for higher education.
â€œItâ€™s great to have people with such decision making power so familiar with our university and to be able to make important decisions that take our students into account,â€ Wheeler said.
Missouri Westernâ€™s President James Scanlon praised Bluntâ€™s assistance with providing funding for higher education, calling him â€œa griffon:â€¦a person of clear courage and great imagination.â€