JEFFERSON CITY – In an effort to empower residents in rural areas of the state to go back to school and further their education, WGU Missouri has announced it has partnered with the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives (AMEC) to provide $100,000 in scholarships to residents who are served by an electric cooperative and are interested in pursuing a degree from the online, nonprofit university. Reliable internet access has been identified as a major need for rural communities in Missouri and beyond, and thanks to Missouri’s rural electric cooperatives, internet access will soon be expanded to more than 25,000 Missourians. The WGU Missouri “Power Your Future” scholarship celebrates this access by rewarding Missourians who want to complete their college education through an online university but were previously unable to because they lacked access to robust internet service.
The “Power Your Future” scholarship is open to new students in rural areas of the state who are customers of, or live in a household served by, one of the more than 40 rural electric co-ops that power rural Missouri. Each scholarship is valued at up to $3,000 and will be applied at a rate of $750 per six-month term. To be eligible, scholarship applicants must be officially admitted to WGU Missouri, complete the scholarship application and be interviewed by a WGU scholarship counselor. Recipients will be selected based on academic records, financial need, readiness for online study and current competency, among other considerations. The scholarship is open through Dec. 31.
While urban areas of Missouri have enjoyed high-speed internet service for years, much of the state’s rural areas have been underserved when it comes to broadband access. Thanks to the collective efforts of the state’s electric co-ops, though, new legislation passed in 2018 will provide more opportunities for co-ops and other telecommunication groups to expand broadband access to more areas of rural Missouri. This means there will be expanded opportunities for residents who need the flexibility offered by online education. The “Power Your Future” scholarship aims to bring attention to these opportunities and reward students in rural Missouri who are interested in furthering their education.
“Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives were established to improve the quality of life for rural Missourians and that’s still our mission today,” said Chris Massman of AMEC. “Partnering with WGU to provide scholarships to further the education of our co-op members is another great way to give back and carry on that tradition.”
WGU Missouri, the state's only fully online, competency-based university, offers more than 60 accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in business, information technology, K–12 teacher education, and health professions, including nursing. A state-based subsidiary of nationally recognized, accredited, nonprofit Western Governors University, WGU Missouri is designed to fit the busy lives – and often tight budgets – of working adult students.
“WGU Missouri works to build stronger families, stronger communities and a stronger state, and I am proud to say we’ve been able to provide thousands of local students with access to high-quality, affordable and flexible higher education since WGU Missouri was established by the State of Missouri in 2013,” said Dr. Angie Besendorfer, Chancellor of WGU Missouri. “Many of the students we serve are from rural communities who have been able to take advantage of the empowered model offered by WGU to earn their degree on their terms. We are excited to partner with AMEC to continue to grow the number of degreed individuals residing in rural communities and create a long-lasting, positive impact.”