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After a dip in enrollment, Missouri State creates scholarship covering tuition, fees for new Pell-eligible students

Aerial view of Missouri State University
Aerial view of Missouri State University

The MOState Access Award means eligible students will pay no tuition or fees after federal, state, and institutional grants and scholarships are first applied, officials announced Monday.

Missouri State University officials announced a new scholarship Monday for in-state students who qualify for the federal Pell grant. The MoState Access Award will cover the full cost of tuition and fees at MSU for new Pell-eligible students who are Missouri residents, officials said.

The scholarship is a strategic effort to recruit new students days after MSU reported a dip in enrollment of about 1.3 percent this academic year. Many colleges and universities across the U.S. have reported significant declines in both transfer and first-year students since the pandemic began, according to the National Student Clearninghouse Research Center.

News of the scholarship came during MSU's annual "State of the University" event, which traditionally includes a speech by university president Clif Smart.

To earn the scholarship, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before Feb. 1, 2023.

According to a press release from MSU, eligible students must also be:

  • an incoming freshman or new transfer student
  • a Missouri resident
  • a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • eligible to receive a Pell Grant
  • seeking an undergrad degree
  • enrolling in at least 12 credit hours

Some students already get their full tuition and fees covered through a combination of state, federal and local scholarships; these students will not receive the new MoState Access scholarship.
MSU's executive vice president, Zora Mulligan, fielded audience questions about the scholarship. When asked where the funding will come from to pay for the scholarship, Mulligan said the majority "actually comes from the state and federal government."

"For the short term, it's anticipated we'll be able to cover [the university's portion] with the existing budget," Mulligan said.

Smart said the university will evaluate whether the scholarship will be worth the cost longer-term, but said he was optimistic that it would be sustainable.

The scholarship does not cover room and board, but instead gives lower-income students the option to live at home and attend the university tuition-free.

Editor's note: The broadcast license for Ozarks Public Broadcasting, which includes KSMU Radio, is held by Missouri State University. KSMU Radio operates with editorial independence from the university.