There are many different things that come to mind when you think of the state of Missouri. You may think of the various St. Louis professional sports teams, the Lake of the Ozarks, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Ozark Mountains, the live entertainment in Branson and so many other fun things.

What you should be thinking about are the great financial aid awards available for Missouri college students that are given out by the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (MDHEWD).

These wonderfully helpful financial aid programs include the Access Missouri Program, the Bright Flight Program, the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Program, and the Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Program.

Access Missouri Financial Aid Program

The Access Missouri Financial Aid Program is a need-based award and a student’s need is determined by their estimated family contribution from their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) report and the type of school the student attends.

To be eligible for the Access Missouri program, a student must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
  • Be a Missouri resident;
  • Be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student at a participating Missouri postsecondary institution,
    • Full-time is defined by 12 credit hours per semester or eight credit hours per quarter.
  • Have an estimated family contribution of $12,000 or less;
  • Not be pursuing a degree or certificate in theology or divinity;
  • Not yet have received a bachelor’s degree, completed the required credit hours to receive a bachelor’s degree, or completed 150 semester credit hours; and
  • Complete and file FAFSA by April 1 every academic year.

To apply for the Access Missouri award, a student must simply file FAFSA each year. There is no separate application to complete.

The Access Missouri award is a renewable one. In order to renew the award, a student must:

  • Continue to meet all the initial eligibility requirements;
  • Maintain a minimum, cumulative 2.50 GPA;
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by the school; and
  • Not yet have received the award for the maximum of five semesters at a two-year school or ten semesters at any combination of a two-year or four-year school.

The Access Missouri award amount is not available for summer terms. At a public two-year college, a student will receive an annual award of a minimum of $300 and a maximum of $1,300. At a public four-year college, a state technical college, private college or approved virtual school, a student will receive an annual award of a minimum of $1,500 and a maximum of $2,850.

Bright Flight Program

The Bright Flight Program is also known as the Missouri Higher Education Academic Scholarship Program and it is a merit-based award created to persuade top-ranking Missouri high school students to attend Missouri colleges.

To be eligible for the Bright Flight Program, a student must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident;
  • Be a Missouri resident;
  • Have earned a composite ACT or SAT score by the June test date immediately following the student’s high school graduation in either:
    • The top-3% of all Missouri students taking the exams or
    • The top fourth or fifth percentiles of all Missouri students taking the exams;
  • Enroll as a first-time student and receive the scholarship in the academic year immediately following the student’s high school graduation, receipt of GED, or completion of secondary homeschool coursework;
  • Enroll as a full-time student at a participating Missouri postsecondary institution;
  • Submit supplemental eligibility information (if required) by the MDHEWD deadline; and
  • Not be pursuing a degree in theology or divinity.

There is no separate application to apply for the Bright Flight Program. MDHEWD will let the student know if they are eligible for the program based off their qualifying ACT or SAT score(s) at the beginning of the student’s senior year’s spring semester of high school. MDHEWD will also alert the schools the student chose to send their scores to at the time of the standardized tests if the schools are eligible and the student is eligible.

A student can receive Bright Flight Program funding for up to ten semesters or until the student completes their bachelor’s degree. To renew the award, a student must:

  • Continue to meet the initial eligibility criteria;
  • Receive the scholarship for at least one semester every academic year, beginning with the academic year immediately following the student’s high school graduation, receipt of GED or completion of secondary homeschool coursework;
  • Maintain a minimum, cumulative 2.50 GPA, and
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by the student’s school.

Typically, if a student receives a 31 or higher on the ACT or receives an 800 or higher on the SAT’s math section and a 780 or higher on the SAT’s critical reading section, they can receive up to $3,000 annually. If a student receives a 30 on the ACT or receives between a 790-799 on the SAT’s math section and between a 770-779 on the SAT’s critical reading section, they can receive up to $1,000 annually.

Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant

The Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant is a new program to help adult students pursue a certificate, degree, or industry-recognized credential in a high-need workforce area.

To be eligible for the grant, a student must:

  • Be a Missouri resident,
  • Be at least 25-years-old or have not been enrolled in any school within the past two years,
  • Not yet earned a bachelor’s degree,
  • Be planning to enroll part-time or full-time at an eligible Missouri postsecondary institution in an approved program,
  • Not make more than $80,000 per year if filing taxes jointly or not make more than $40,000 per year if filing taxes as any other tax status,
  • Complete and submit the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant application by May 15,
  • Complete and submit the self-certification form for each payment cycle,
  • Complete and file FAFSA every year, and
  • Enter an agreement where the student promises to:
    • Graduate from an approved school,
    • Maintain Missouri residency,
    • Get an approved job in Missouri within 12 months of graduation, and
    • Hold the job in Missouri for at least three years.

The grant is a renewable award as well. To renew funding, a student must:

  • Continue to meet all initial eligibility criteria,
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by the student’s school, and
  • Maintain at least a cumulative 2.50 GPA.

The Fast Track grant is designed to cover any amount of funding a student may need to pay for tuition and mandatory fees after other financial aid is taken into account. This helps to ensure a student will not have to pay for tuition and mandatory out of their own pocket.

If a student already has other financial aid that covers the cost of tuition and fees, the student can still receive $500 to cover additional educational expenses.

Assuming a student fulfills the agreement portion of the program, the grant will not have to be paid back. If a student fails to fulfill the agreement portion, the grant turns into a loan which will have to be paid back with interest.

Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Program

The Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Program is a scholarship program built to help academically-talented minority and underrepresented groups pursue a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in an environmental course of study that will eventually lead to employment in the field.

The Minority Environmental Literacy Advisory Committee chooses the recipients of the scholarship based on an applicant’s educational and career goals as well as activities. To be eligible for the award, a student must:

  • Be African American, Hispanic American, Latino American, Native American, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander;
  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be lawfully present in the country;
  • Be a Missouri resident;
  • Be a high school graduate from an accredited school;
  • Meet the cumulative GPA requirements of:
    • 3.00 on a 4.00 scale in high school and
    • 2.50 on a 4.00 scale if currently enrolled in college;
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student in a participating Missouri postsecondary institution in one of the following degree programs:
    • Environmental, chemical, civil, mechanical, or agricultural engineering;
    • Biology or geology;
    • Wildlife management, nature resource planning, natural resources or a closely-related field;
    • Environmental chemistry or environmental law enforcement;
  • Complete and submit the program’s application by June 1.

The program’s application has specific documents that need to be submitted with it. These documents include:

  • Three letters of recommendation,
    • One must be from a counselor, principal and or college advisor.
  • A one-page essay explaining the student’s environmentally-related educational and career goals,
  • A resume of school and community activities, and
  • Transcripts which include ACT or SAT scores.

If the student is selected to be a recipient, the MDHEWD and the Advisory Committee will send the student an approval letter.

The scholarship is renewable, too. In order to renew funding, a student must:

  • Submit the renewal application by June 1 every academic year,
  • Continue to meet all the initial eligibility criteria,
  • Maintain a cumulative 2.50 GPA, and
  • Be selected again to receive the award by the Advisory Committee.

The scholarship award amount varies annually.

Major Missouri Colleges and Universities

The Show Me State is home to many popular public and private colleges and universities within its 69,715 sq. miles of area. Some of these major colleges include:

  • Avila University in Kansas City (private),
  • College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout (private),
  • Lindenwood University in Saint Charles (private),
  • Missouri Southern State University in Joplin (public),
  • Missouri State University in Springfield (public),
  • Missouri Western State University in Saint Joseph (public),
  • Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville (public),
  • Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau (public),
  • Louis University in St. Louis (private),
  • University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg (public),
  • University of Missouri (Mizzou) in Columbia (public),
  • Washington University in St. Louis (private), and
  • Webster University in Webster Groves (private).

College-bound Missouri residents should be thrilled to know there are so many helpful in-state college financial aid programs to apply for that can assist them in affording to attend college in the Show Me State.