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College seems to be getting more and more expensive. In fact, college costs are increasing an average 3 percent to 4 percent each year. Currently, the average annual cost of college is $9,970 for four-year public institutions (in-state) and $34,740 for four-year private institutions. That means families struggling to pay for college need all the help they can get.
Furthermore, in Missouri, around 62 percent of high school graduates go straight to college. Luckily, there are quite a few student loans, scholarships, and grants to help those students pay for their college education.
Getting Financial Aid for School
Financial aid applications require the same basic types of information you need when you apply for a mortgage. It’s a good idea to start collecting all of the necessary paperwork at the beginning of each year.
You’ll need to fill out a federal form called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for federal student aid as well as many scholarships and grants. The FAFSA is available online and is used to calculate the student’s expected family contribution.
In order to complete the FAFSA, you’ll need to have the Social Security numbers of both the parents and student, bank statements, investment account statements, W-2 forms, and tax returns.
Although the formula is a little different each year, it is available online if you want to estimate what your expected family contribution might be. If you make a lot of money or have a lot of money in savings or investment accounts, you can anticipate that you’ll have a high expected family contribution.
Parents with lower salaries and savings will have lower expected family contributions. Need-based financial aid is determined by calculating the difference between the total cost of attendance and the family’s contribution. Most families, however, find that the amount they can actually contribute towards college expenses varies considerably from what the formula suggests.
Some students come from families who are not willing to contribute anything towards their college education. Unfortunately, the calculation for family contribution and need-based aid does not reflect the family’s willingness to pay.
Missouri Student Loans
Missouri has one state-based loan program specific to nursing students and another program for families that demonstrate financial need.
>> Read More: Find Private Student Loans
Missouri Professional and Practical Nursing Student Loan Program
Eligibility: Applicants must be Missouri residents attending a Missouri college or university who have been accepted to or are enrolled in a nursing program approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing.
Loan Limits: $2,500 for LPN students and $5,000 for professional nursing students (Diploma, ASN, BSN, MSN, APN, DNP)
Perks: Priority is given to students in underrepresented minority groups as well as students who come from underserved areas. Doctoral students attending school part-time are also eligible for the loan program.
Missouri Family Education Loan Program
Eligibility: Borrowers must be permanent Missouri residents over the age of 17 who are enrolled full-time and have already accepted the full award amount of Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans.
Families must have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $12,000 or less during the current academic year as determined by the FAFSA. Students must show academic potential with either a 21 or higher on the ACT or 1500 or higher on the SAT.
For those already enrolled in college, they must have a 2.5 cumulative GPA on college coursework. Borrowers must have a two-year credit history or a co-signer with sufficient credit history.
Loan Limits: Loans are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis each year and range from $500 to $5,000 per year.
Perks: The Missouri Family Education Loan Program is a private education loan program designed to provide assistance to Missouri students with high academic potential who demonstrate a high level of financial need. The loans come with a 0% interest rate.
Missouri College Scholarships
Bright Flight Scholarship
Amount: Up to $3,000
Deadline: July 31
Requirements: All students who score in the top 3 percent to 4 percent of Missouri students on the ACT or SAT are eligible for the scholarship. There is not an application to complete, but students must provide evidence that they scored in the top percentages on one of these standardized tests. Scholarship funds are only valid for Missouri colleges and universities. The scholarships are renewable each year if students maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA.
A+ Scholarship Program
Amount: The scholarship reimburses the unpaid balance of tuition and fees after all the available non-loan federal financial aid has been applied to the student’s account.
Requirements: The A+ Scholarship program provides funds for graduates of Missouri’s A+ designated high schools who attend a participating public community college, public vocational/technical school, or certain private two-year vocational/technical schools.
Students must graduate with a minimum 2.5 GPA, pass a state exam demonstrating proficiency in Algebra I, maintain a 95 percent attendance record for grades 9 to 12, perform at least 50 hours of unpaid mentoring or tutoring, and have a good behavior record. The award is renewable for 48 months after high school graduation.
Marguerite Ross Barnett Memorial Scholarship
Amount: Up to the cost of six to nine credit hours
Requirements: This scholarship is only available to students who are working while attending school part-time. Students must be Missouri residents attending a school in Missouri and demonstrate financial need.
In order to be eligible, students must provide evidence that they are working at least 20 hours a week and are enrolled at least part-time but not full-time at a qualifying Missouri college or university. Students cannot already have a college degree and cannot be employed as work-study scholarship recipients.
Minority Teaching Scholarship
Amount: Annual maximum awards are $3,000. $2,000 is given as a forgivable loan while the remaining $1,000 is a scholarship that does not require repayment.
Deadline: June 1
Requirements: The scholarship is awarded to Missouri residents classified as African American, Native American, Asian American, or Hispanic American. Students must be enrolled in a full-time approved teacher education program at a participating Missouri community college or four-year college or university.
To be eligible, students must show that they graduated in the top 25 percent of their high school class and scored in the top 25 percent on the ACT or SAT. Returning students who already hold a baccalaureate degree are also eligible if they are entering an approved math or science teacher education program.
>> Read More: Try out our scholarship search tool to see if you qualify for any out-of-state options.
Missouri Grants for College
Grants are another form of financial aid that students do not have to repay. Unlike scholarships, which are primarily merit-based, grants are typically based on financial need. High school guidance counselors and online resources can help families to find grants for college.
Access Missouri Grant
Amount: Awards vary from $300 to $2,850 based on institution and financial need
Deadline: February 1 for priority decisions and April 1 for regular decisions
Requirements: Students must be enrolled full-time at a participating college or university. Grants are available for students whose families have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $12,000 or less as determined by filing the FAFSA. The grant is renewable for students who continue to meet the financial need requirements and maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5.
Advanced Placement Incentive Grant
Deadline: June 1
Requirements: This grant program is designed to encourage Missouri high school students to take and do well on advanced placement tests in math and science. In order to be eligible, students must score three or better on two different AP math and science exams while a student at a Missouri public high school.
Students must also receive an award under the A+ Scholarship Program or the Access Missouri Student Financial Assistance Program in order to be eligible for this grant. The award is non-renewable.
Author: Kimberly Goodwin, PhD