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Governor announces boost to need-based scholarships

Gov. Jay Nixon came to the University of Missouri-Kansas City to announce a substantial boost in need-based scholarships for college students across Missouri.

At the July 15 press conference at the Atterbury Student Success Center, Nixon said the maximum award amount for Access Missouri scholarships will increase by more than 23 percent – to $1,850 from $1,500 – for students attending participating four-year institutions including UMKC, and by nearly 30 percent – to $850 from $660 – for students attending participating two-year institutions in the current fiscal year, FY2016.

“College affordability has been a top priority of my administration, and over the past six years Missouri has led the nation in holding down tuition increases at public universities,” Nixon said. “This substantial increase in Access Missouri scholarship amounts will make college more affordable for thousands of students across the state. As many other states struggle with deficits and gridlock, here in Missouri our commitment to our students and our higher education institutions continues to move our economy forward.”

Nixon stressed the importance of the investment to the state’s overall economy, as well as to individual students and their families.

“Institutions like UMKC are essential to Missouri’s ability to compete and win in today’s high tech economy,” the governor said. “Education is the best economic development tool we have.

“The less students spend on tuition, the more they can spend on a down payment on a house or starting their own business, generating economic activity that will yield big returns for our communities now and for years to come,” Nixon added.

Introducing the governor, UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton noted the importance of need-based scholarships to an urban-serving university.

“By providing an affordable path to higher education, we provide a strong and productive workforce for our communities, help people achieve a higher standard of living, and keep our best and brightest young people here at home,” Morton said.

He noted that more than 1,300 UMKC students received Access Missouri scholarships last year, and that 60 percent of UMKC applicants are classified as having high financial need.

“We need to provide as many gap-closers as we can,” Morton said.

Expanding on his theme of education as an economic development tool, the Governor noted that he was on the UMKC campus in May to announce the state matching funds to build UMKC’s $14.8 million Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center. The center, a prototyping and product development hub, will be available to entrepreneurs, local industry, and high school and college students as they pursue entrepreneurial ventures. The building will primarily serve two of the university’s fastest-growing academic units, the School of Computing and Engineering and the Henry W. Bloch School of Management.

“Continuing to strengthen the business team here (at UMKC) is critical” to the state’s progress, Nixon said. “”Entrepreneurship is essential to whatever you’re studying.” The governor said he intends to be back at UMKC in the fall when work begins on a $21.5 million upgrade to the university’s chemistry and biology teaching laboratories.

He concluded by thanking the UMKC faculty for their service to both students and the broader community, and promised students that Missouri colleges are increasing academic rigor as well as affordability.

“I applaud your academic achievements and I urge you to continue your careers here in Missouri,” Nixon said.


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