COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri in Columbia plans to guarantee payment of all tuition and fees for every student who qualifies for a federal Pell Grant, with even more financial help for students who qualify for the Honors College.
The school announced a plan Thursday that will cover any gap between the cost of tuition and fees and what is covered by other scholarships for qualifying students, starting in fall 2018. Students in Honors College would also receive other expenses, such as room and board and books.
The program, called the Missouri Land Grant Compact, is open only to Missouri residents.
"This award will have a significant impact on our students and our state," Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said. "Today is an investment in Missouri."
The university estimates more than 3,500 students — or more than 10 percent of the student population — will benefit. The grants are expected to cost the university about $5 million.
Most Pell Grants are awarded to students whose families make less than $30,000 a year but some Pell Grants are awarded to students whose families make more than that. The maximum Pell Grant award this year was $5,815.
In-state residents pay about $11,000 a year at Missouri for 14 credit hours per semester. Housing and dining cost about $10,808 and students pay about $6,148 a year for books, transportation and personal expenses, The Kansas City Star reported .
Honors College requires incoming freshmen to have an ACT score of 31 or higher, be in the top 15 percent of their class, or have a core grade point average of 3.58. Students with an ACT score of at least 29 need to be in the top 5 percent of their class or have a core grade point average of 3.91.
The program comes as the university is struggling with decreased enrollment and reduced state funding of about $60 million. The system is cutting more than $101 million from the budgets of its four campuses, causing a loss of 474 jobs so far.
"This will help eliminate the financial barrier for many students in Missouri," said university spokesman Christian Basi. "This is something that has been in the works for a significantly long time. It is not in response to any recent news."
The program will be funded through a combination of federal, state and university resources. It's expected to cost about $5 million a year — $3.5 million for the Missouri Land Grants and $1.5 million for the Honors grants.
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