JEFFERSON CITY – A bill passed in Missouri last year that added WGU Missouri to the eligible institutions list for the Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program has enabled more than 600 of the university’s low-income students to gain access to need-based grant funding. In total, 610 students were awarded $953,673 in need-based grants as part of their financial aid packages. Before the bill’s approval in summer 2018, WGU Missouri students had always had the opportunity to apply for financial aid through the federal student loan program. However, Fiscal Year 2019 marked the first year, since the university’s establishment in 2013, that eligible students were also able to receive funds through Access Missouri.
WGU Missouri students first became eligible for Access Missouri funds on July 1, 2018, and 19.5% of the university’s students received funds. Each student was granted an average award of $2,050 for the year, or $1,025 per six-month term, which is the maximum grant amount awarded through Access Missouri.
“We’re thrilled to announce that this legislation has had such a large and positive impact on our students,” said Dr. Angie Besendorfer, Chancellor of WGU Missouri. “Our mission is to make attaining a college degree more accessible and affordable for adults across Missouri, regardless of financial circumstances. Access Missouri is a valuable resource for our low-income students, helping make it even easier for them to fulfill their educational goals.”
While students at the online, nonprofit university already enjoy low tuition rates, many WGU Missouri students also rely on financial aid in order to finance their education. For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, WGU Missouri students received a total of $5,160,634 in financial aid. These funds were awarded in the form of Pell Grants, direct loans, private loans, WGU scholarships from WGU and SEOG grants. The addition of the Access Missouri funds accounted for 18.5% of financial aid received by WGU Missouri students last year.
Financial eligibility for Access Missouri, much like any grant, is determined by the Missouri Department of Higher Education using a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as calculated through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Award amounts for eligible students range from $1,500 to $2,050 each school year, depending on expected family contribution, which must be $12,000 or less to qualify. For a complete list of requirements, visit https://dhe.mo.gov/ppc/grants/accessmo.php.
WGU Missouri offers more than 60 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in business, information technology, teacher education and health professions, including nursing. Unlike a traditional college program, WGU Missouri caters to adults with previous work experience or who are currently working and looking to further their careers through education. The university’s competency-based education model allows adult students to take advantage of prior learning and experience to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. For more information, visit Missouri.wgu.edu.