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Missouri officially launches scholarship for adult learners

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The state has officially launched a scholarship program for adults seeking to further their education in high demand jobs.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education has released applications for the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant program. The scholarship, which becomes effective on August 28, was first unveiled by Gov. Mike Parson during his State of the State speech and subsequent budget recommendation in January.

“Education changes lives,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education. “Fast Track shows that Missouri is serious about reaching our adult population. This program opens up opportunities for training and education that many adults have not considered possible.”

To qualify for the program for the 2019-2020 academic year, individual must: be at least 25-years-old or have not been enrolled in an educational program for two years; be a Missouri resident; and have an adjusted gross income of less than $80,000 if married or $40,000 if single.

The grants will be awarded in an amount equal to the actual tuition and general fees charged to an eligible student, after all federal non-loan aid, state student aid, and any other governmental student financial aid is applied. Recipients must maintain Missouri residency and work in Missouri for three years after graduation to prevent the grant from converting to a loan.

Lawmakers allocated $10 million in lottery funds for the program.

“This grant is not only good for the individual, it is also great for our businesses, communities, and the state,” Mulligan said.

Applicants must be planning on enrolling, at least part-time, in an undergraduate school in an “eligible program of study.”

A list of high-need occupations and program categories was developed utilizing long-term occupational projections developed by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. After a public comment period, the Coordinating Board for Higher Education approved a final list for the 2019-2020 academic year during its June meeting.

Some of the approved programs include nursing, computer science, civil engineering technology, agricultural business, elementary education, finance, welding technology, industrial electricity, automotive technology, and dozens of other areas of study.

The Fast Track scholarship program had a difficult time crossing the finish line during the 2019 regular session. The standalone bill stalled in the Senate, where some Republicans sought to attach education reform measures — education savings accounts or charter school expansion.

Ultimately, Fast Track was added to the controversial workforce development bill designed to lure roughly $1 billion in investment from General Motors into their Wentzville plant. SB 68, championed by Sen. Lincoln Hough, was signed by Parson in July.

“From day one, workforce development has been a major focus of our administration,” Parson said after signing the legislation. “We’re excited about this great step forward and will continue to invest in Missouri workers, help companies grow, and keep quality jobs here in our state.”