2016 Most Affordable Colleges in Missouri

Scroll down to see our top-ranked colleges in Missouri, loans and scholarships for Missouri students, and advice on how to save money going to college in Missouri.

2016 Most Affordable Colleges in Missouri

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1

Northwest Missouri State University

Founded in 1905 as a teacher's college, Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri currently offers 135 undergraduate programs and 36 graduate programs. Institutional grants or scholarships are provided to 90% of full-time beginning undergraduates, with students receiving an average institutional gift award of $4,411. Incoming freshmen are automatically considered for 12 scholarships, including the $5,000 President's Scholarship, the $3,500 Distinguished Scholarship, the $2,500 Tower Scholarship and the $1,000 Freshman Merit Award. Transfer students are also eligible for several admission-based scholarships like the $5,000 President's Scholarship, the $2,500 Transfer Distinguished Scholarship, the $1,500 Transfer Academic Scholarship and the $1,000 Transfer Merit Scholarship. Northwest Missouri State also offers institutional need-based grants, like the Bearcat Grant and the Northwest Grant.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,720 Students

2

Truman State University

A 180-acre campus that traces its origin to 1867, Truman State University has an average student population of 6,000 and offers 48 undergraduate majors, 58 minors, 8 undergraduate programs, 2 graduate certificate programs and several pre-professional areas of study. Admitted freshmen with outstanding academic achievements are automatically considered for several scholarships including the following: General John J. Pershing Scholarship (full tuition, room and board, one-time $4,000 study abroad stipend), Truman Leadership Scholarship (full in-state tuition, room and board), Missouri Boy's State/Missouri Girl's State Scholarship ($1,000/year), and the International Baccalaureate Scholarship ($2,000/year). Incoming freshmen who are National Merit Finalists who designated Truman as their first-choice school are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship, which awards scholarships with varying amounts up to full tuition.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,248 Students

3

Missouri Southern State University

Missouri Southern State University in Joplin awards bachelor's and master's degrees and is best known for its teacher education program. The university awards $4.4 million annually in scholarship money. High-achieving high school seniors can apply for the Presidential Scholarship ($1,750 a year) or Excellence Scholarship ($1,300 a year). Several scholarships are designated for transfer students. Need-based grants available to MSSU students include the federal Pell Grant and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Access Missouri Grant, and the TEACH Grant for education majors. Residents of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota or Wisconsin automatically gain Midwest Students Exchange Program Awards, which are equal to half of the out-of-state portion of tuition. The university administers an interest-free tuition payment plan.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,613 Students

4

University of Central Missouri

The 13,000 students of the University of Central Missouri come from nearly every state and from 50 countries all over the world. Incoming freshmen who are Missouri residents can apply for the Red & Black Scholarship, the value of which may be determined by the UCM Scholarship Eligibility Calculator. Admitted non-resident freshmen can apply for the Non-Resident Scholar Award, which covers 25, 50, or 100 percent of non-resident fees. Transfer students from a community college can apply for the Community College Transfer Student Scholarship ($1,000 per semester), while transfer students from a 4-year college or university can apply for the Transfer Student Scholarship ($500 per semester).

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

13,379 Students

5

Missouri Western State University

Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, grants associate, bachelor's and master's degrees and has an undergraduate enrollment of about 5,800. Missouri Western participates in need- based programs including federal Pell Grants and the Access Missouri Program ($1,000 to $2,150 per year). Incoming freshmen may be eligible for scholarships ($500 to $5,000) based on their academic performance in high school. Transfer students may qualify for scholarships ($1,000 to $5,000) based on their GPA. Out-of-state students can qualify for out-of-state fee waivers if they live in states that neighbor Missouri, and the university also offers the Missouri Western Frontier Scholarship ($1,500) to students from states other than Missouri. Graduate students can also receive an out-of-state waiver and apply for assistantships.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,834 Students

6

Central Methodist University

Central Methodist University is a private, four-year university that offers associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs. The University awards institutional grants or scholarships to 100% of full-time beginning undergraduates enrolled in its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. These institutional awards include academic scholarships for incoming freshmen that range from $4,000 to $12,000 per year, the Eagle Select Scholarship (up to full-tuition) and the United Methodist Half-Tuition Scholarship. Students enrolled in the University's College of Graduate and Extended Studies are not eligible for institutional scholarship opportunities. Grant opportunities include the Federal Pell Grant ($605-$5,730 per year), the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and various state grants. The University also offers a tuition payment plan that allows students to divide their tuition payment into six payments.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

1,185 Students

7

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Founded in 1870, Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri was the first technological institution west of the Mississippi. Institutional grants or scholarships are provided to 91% of full-time beginning undergraduates with students receiving an average award of $6,723. Incoming freshmen are automatically considered for merit-based awards like the Excellence Scholarship, which provides $5,500+ per year to Missouri residents and $11,000+ per year to non-Missouri residents. Additionally, the Trustee's Scholarship provides $4,000+ to Missouri residents and $10,000+ to non-Missouri residents, while the Miner Scholarship provides $2,000+ to Missouri residents and $7,000+ to non-Missouri residents. Freshmen are also eligible for the highly competitive Chancellor's Scholarship‎, which provides $12,000 per year to 15 students.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,640 Students

8

University of Missouri-Columbia

The University of Missouri in Columbia is the state's largest public research university and offers its 35,000 students more than 300 degree programs through 19 colleges and schools. Incoming freshmen with excellent academic backgrounds are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships such as the Mizzou Scholars Award ($10,000/year) and the Chancellor's Award ($6,500/year). The Quadrangle Award ($2,000/year) supports home-schooled freshmen or graduates of non-accredited high schools who are Missouri residents. Beginning students from under-represented ethnic groups (African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander) are considered for the following scholarships: Dr. Donald Suggs Scholarship ($12,500/year), George C. Brooks Scholarship ($7,500/year) and the Diversity Award ($2,500/year). Non-resident beneficiaries of these three programs also receive a waiver of non-resident tuition (approximately $14,000).

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 94.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

35,425 Students

9

Missouri State University-Springfield

Missouri State University-Springfield is part of a four-campus system that has an enrollment of over 24,000 students, making it the second largest university system in the state. Institutional grants or scholarships are awarded to 48% of full-time beginning undergraduates, and incoming freshmen are eligible for numerous institutionally funded and donor funded scholarships through the university. Students that rank in the top 10% of their high school class or have a 3.9 GPA are eligible for the $12,500 per year Presidential Scholarship and the $2,000 per year University Scholarship. Students who have also earned a minimum ACT score of 28 are eligible for the Board of Governors Scholarship, which provides $5,000 per year for four-years.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 93.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

21,816 Students

10

St Charles Community College

St Charles Community College is a two-year college that offers associate degrees and certificates in the arts and sciences, as well as in business and career technical disciplines. The College provides financial aid to 80% of full-time, first-year students, and institutional grants or scholarships are provided to 4% of these students. Available scholarships include the full-tuition Trustees Scholarship, the full-tuition Military Families Scholarship, foundation scholarships ranging from $250 to $1,400, and Transfer Scholarships. Federal grants are awarded to 37% of full-time, first-year students, including Federal Pell Grants (up to $5,775 per year) and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (between $200 and $4,000 per year). The College also participates in the Missouri A+ Schools Program, which covers tuition for qualifying students from area high schools.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 93.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

7,153 Students

11

Southeast Missouri State University

Founded as a teacher's college in 1873, Southeast Missouri State University currently offers over 150 academic programs. Incoming freshmen are eligible for several renewable scholarship opportunities based on GPA and ACT/SAT scores, including the full-tuition Governor's Scholarship (which also covers room and board), the full-tuition Regents' Scholarship and the $4,000 President's Scholarship. Transfer students who are residents of Missouri are eligible for the $3,000 Outstanding Community College Scholarship, the $1,500 Community College Scholarship and the $500 Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship. Non-resident transfer students are eligible for several scholarships as well, with awards ranging from $500 to $5,385 per year . Additionally, the University participates in College Access Programs, which offer between $1,500 and $2,400 per year to make college affordable for first-generation college attendees or those in underrepresented ethnic groups.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 93.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

12,087 Students

Missouri offers a lot of choice to students looking for affordable college education. Big public names like the University of Missouri in Columbia (UM) and Missouri State University (MSU) in Springfield are options. But you may also want to consider smaller state universities and technological institutions. State financial aid is respectable, if not overly generous, and there are some pretty strong loan repayment programs for health professionals. Even better, the average cost of living in the biggest cities is below the national average.

How to Transfer College Credits in Missouri

In Missouri, students are able to transfer general education courses in a block of courses that is widely accepted. The state also offers an associate of arts degree with guaranteed transfer, plus a course equivalency guide for researching potential transfer opportunities.

Missouri students can complete a block of general education credit for transfer. This 42 hour minimum block of courses is transferable among a number of two and four year public institutions in Missouri, and typically satisfies the general education requirements with most institutions. However, some institutions require credits above the 42 hour minimum and may require additional course work to satisfy general education requirements.

If students complete an associate of arts degree in Missouri, that degree is guaranteed to transfer to a four year college or university in the state. The degree is designed as a general studies transfer degree. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all institutions will grant associate’s degree holders with junior status, as graduation requirements may vary.

Students can use the Missouri Department of Higher Education Course Equivalency guide to research how courses they’ve completed may be accepted at a new institution.

State Financial Aid for Missouri Students

Your journey to a cheaper college degree doesn’t have to stop with federal aid. For all the latest on state aid, check out the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) website.

Along with a complete list of state grants & scholarships and descriptions of other student aid programs available to Missouri residents, MDHE has advice on federal student loans, a page devoted to Veterans’ Educational Programs and a long list of links & resources. We particularly like MDHE’s targeted Missouri College & Degree Search. You can monitor payments & eligibility for some state student financial aid programs (e.g. Bright Flight) through the MDHE Student Portal.

Most Missouri state aid packages use federal aid data to determine a student’s eligibility, so it’s very important to file your FAFSA! Need help with the form? MDHE runs free FAFSA Frenzy events in schools and community organizations across 47 counties. Students who participate are eligible to win a scholarship for attendance in a Missouri postsecondary program. Call MDHE’s toll-free line at 800-473-6757 if you have any questions.

Missouri Student Grants

Access Missouri Grant

Summary: Access Missouri is a need-based grant awarded to students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $12,000 or less, as calculated by the FAFSA. The grant can be used at a variety of participating postsecondary schools, including public and private colleges & universities throughout Missouri.

The annual award amount will depend on your EFC and your choice of school. In 2016, awards ranged from $300-$1,300 for a public two-year school, $1,500-$2,850 for a public four-year or state technical college and $1,500-$2,850 for a private institution.

Eligibility: Most importantly, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be a Missouri resident
  • Have an EFC of $12,000 or less as determined by your FAFSA
  • Be a full-time undergraduate student at a participating Missouri postsecondary school
  • Not have received (or completed the hours) for a bachelor’s degree

The Access Missouri webpage has more details on exceptions, transfers, grant renewal requirements and details about how other aid will affect the grant.

How to Apply: File your FAFSA. There is no separate application form required.

Advanced Placement Incentive Grant

Summary: This is a one-time, non-renewable grant given to Missouri public high school students who take—and score well on—Advanced Placement (AP) tests in math and science.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you’ll receive a grant of $500 for education-related expenses at your postsecondary school.

Eligibility: You must:

  • Be attending a Missouri public high school
  • Achieve two grades of 3 or higher on AP exams in the field of math and/or science (i.e. Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Physics B, Physics and Statistics)
  • Receive an award under the Access Missouri or A+ Scholarship program in the academic year in which the AP Incentive Grant is awarded

How to Apply: Complete the Advanced Placement Incentive Grant Application and return it to MDHE. You will need to have a copy of your Advanced Placement Score Report from The College Board with your exam scores.

Public Service Officer or Employee’s Child Survivor Grant

Summary: This grant provides tuition assistance to the families of certain public employees who have been killed or permanently and totally disabled in the line of duty or to disabled public safety officers themselves.

The maximum award amount per semester covers actual tuition for 12 credit hours of full-time study at a participating Missouri postsecondary school, or the equivalent resident tuition rate for 12 credit hours at UM-Columbia, whichever is less.

Eligibility: To qualify for the public employee definition, you must:

  • Be a public safety officer permanently and totally disabled in the line of duty
  • OR the spouse of a public safety officer killed or permanently and totally disabled in the line of duty
  • OR the child (natural, adopted or stepchild) of a public safety officer or a Missouri Department of Transportation employee engaged in the construction or maintenance of the state’s highways, roads, and bridges killed or permanently and totally disabled in the line of duty

You must also:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be a Missouri resident
  • Be enrolled (or accepted for enrollment) at a full-time undergraduate student in a participating Missouri postsecondary school
  • Be less than 24 years of age (if applying as a dependent child; there is no age limit for spouses)
  • Not have obtained a bachelor’s degree

The grant webpage has more details on the precise definition of a “public safety officer,” renewals, transfers and eligibility.

How to Apply: Complete the Public Safety Officer or Employee’s Child Survivor Grant Program Application and return it to the MDHE. There’s no deadline, but early application is encouraged.

Maryland Student Scholarships

A+ Scholarship

Summary: This scholarship is awarded to graduates of A+ designated high schools who enroll in a degree or certificate program at a participating community college or vocational/technical school. This list includes some private two-year vocational/technical schools.

Generally speaking, the award covers the unpaid balance of your tuition & fees after all available, non-loan federal financial assistance (e.g. the Pell Grant) has been applied to your account. Awards are capped at a certain amount—the average award tends to be around $2,500 per year.

Eligibility: Most importantly, you must:

  • Be a U.S citizen or permanent resident
  • Attend a designated A+ high school for 3 consecutive years immediately prior to graduation & achieve a 95% attendance record for grades 9-12
  • Perform at least 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring (up to 25% can include job shadowing)
  • Maintain a record of good citizenship
  • Achieve a proficient or advanced score on the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam (or a qualifying score on an alternate exam such as COMPASS)
  • Graduate with a GPA of 2.5 or higher

The A+ Scholarship webpage has more details on eligibility, exceptions, renewals, transfers, deferments and award amounts.

How to Apply: File your FAFSA and check with your community college or vocational/technical school to see what materials they require in order to confirm your eligibility. In most cases, your college will require an A+ seal/stamp on your high school transcript. Contact your high school A+ Coordinator with questions.

Bright Flight Scholarship

Summary: This merit-based scholarship is designed to encourage top-ranked high school seniors to attend a Missouri college or university. “Top-ranked” means that—compared to test results from all Missouri students—you scored in the top 3% on the ACT or SAT.

The highest scoring scholars (e.g. 31 or above on ACT) can receive up to $3,000 per year. The scholarship can be renewed annually for up to 10 semesters, or until you have completed a bachelor’s degree, whichever occurs first.

Eligibility: Most importantly, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be a Missouri resident
  • Have a composite score on the ACT or SAT in the top 3% or the top 4th or 5th percentile of all Missouri students taking the test
  • Enroll as a first-time, full-time undergraduate at a participating Missouri postsecondary school immediately following your high school graduation, the receipt of your GED or the completion of home school

The Bright Flight Scholarship webpage has more details on exceptions, grant amounts, qualifying scores, transfers, deferments and renewals.

How to Apply: Take the ACT or SAT exam and always choose at least one approved Missouri school. If you get into the top ranks of qualifying scores, you’ll receive an approval letter from the MDHE in the spring of your senior year in high school. You can also check your eligibility on the MDHE Student Portal.

Kids’ Chance Scholarship Program

Summary: This need-based scholarship is only awarded to children of workers who were seriously injured or died in a work-related accident. Eligible students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $12,000 or less can receive help with tuition & fees at a participating Missouri postsecondary school.

The maximum annual award covers resident tuition & fees or the maximum private scholarship amount (~$2,500) available to students through Kids’ Chance, Inc. of Missouri, whichever is less. The scholarship can be renewed until you turn 22.

Eligibility: You must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be a Missouri resident
  • Be a child between the ages of 17 and 22 years of age of an employee who was seriously injured or died in a work-related accident or from an occupational disease covered and compensated by Workers’ Compensation
  • Have an EFC of $12,000 or less as determined by your FAFSA
  • Be a full-time undergraduate student at a participating Missouri postsecondary school

MDHE partners with Kids’ Chance, Inc. of Missouri to identify eligible students. If you do not receive the state Kids’ Chance scholarship because of limited state funding, you may be able to receive the private Kids’ Chance scholarship.

Check the scholarship webpage for more details on renewals, transfers, overawards and eligibility.

How to Apply: File your FAFSA. You must also complete a separate Kids’ Chance Scholarship Application. There is only one application that covers both the state and private scholarship.

Marguerite Ross Barnett Memorial Scholarship

Summary: This is a need-based scholarship awarded to Missouri residents who are employed while attending a participating Missouri postsecondary school on a part-time basis.

The maximum award amount per semester will depend on your school’s tuition rate. See the scholarship webpage for more details.

Eligibility: Most importantly, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be a Missouri resident
  • Be enrolled at least half-time (6-11 credit hours), but less than full-time, at a participating Missouri postsecondary school
  • Be employed and compensated for at least 20 hours per week of work
  • Demonstrate financial need (determined by your FAFSA)
  • Not have received (or completed the hours) for a bachelor’s degree
  • Not be employed under the Title College Work Study program

The scholarship webpage has more details on eligibility, exceptions, renewals, transfers and award amounts.

How to Apply: File your FAFSA. You should also speak to your advisor in the Financial Aid Office and provide him/her with a completed Marguerite Ross Barnett Employment Verification Form each year.

Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Scholarship

Summary: This scholarship is aimed at talented minority and underrepresented Missouri students pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an environmental course of study a participating Missouri postsecondary school. This degree should lead to employment in a field that is clearly environmentally-related. Examples of accepted majors include engineering, geology, wildlife management, natural resource planning, etc.

Members of the following groups have award priority:

  • African Americans
  • Hispanic or Latino Americans
  • Native Americans and Alaska Natives
  • Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders

The average annual award is ~$3,000.

Eligibility: Most importantly, you must

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or otherwise lawfully present in the U.S.
  • Be a Missouri resident
  • Be a graduate of an accredited high school
  • Have maintained at 3.0 GPA in high school or have a 2.5 GPA if currently enrolled in college
  • Be enrolled in a full-time program in an accepted area of study at a participating Missouri postsecondary school

The scholarship webpage has more details on renewals, transfers and award amounts.

How to Apply: You must complete a Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Application each year and submit it to MDHE. You’ll need to include a variety of support materials (e.g. ACT/SAT scores, letters of recommendation, personal essay, etc.).

Missouri Student Loans & Repayment Programs

Minority Teaching Scholarship

Summary: This loan forgiveness program is designed to attract talented minority individuals into the teaching profession. Students enrolled in approved teacher education programs at participating Missouri postsecondary schools receive funds to assist with educational expenses. In return for this scholarship, students must agree to teach on a full-time basis for five years in a Missouri public elementary or secondary school.

The maximum award per year is $3,000 (up to $12,000 total). The state provides $2,000 of the award as a forgivable loan; the remaining $1,000 is provided by the school in the form of a scholarship (i.e. it does not require repayment). However, you can’t receive the school scholarship separately. If you fail to complete your college program or do not fulfill the teaching requirement, the state award converts to a loan, which you must repay with 9.5% interest.

Eligibility: Most importantly, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or otherwise lawfully present in the U.S.
  • Be a Missouri resident
  • Be African American, Asian American, Hispanic American or Native American
  • Be a recent high school graduate, college student or returning adult (without a degree) ranking in the top 25 % of your high school class and scoring in the top 25% of the ACT or SAT exam (or another accepted, national academic assessment exam) or an individual with a baccalaureate degree who is returning to an approved math or science teacher education program
  • Be enrolled full-time in an approved teacher education program at a participating Missouri postsecondary school

The Minority Teaching Scholarship webpage has more details on obligations, repayment terms, renewals, transfers and the application procedure.

How to Apply: Complete the Minority Teaching Scholarship Application. You don’t need to resubmit the application to renew the award.

Missouri Health Professional State Loan Repayment Program

Summary: This program provides financial assistance (i.e. help with repaying education loans) to qualifying health professionals who agree to practice for two years in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) in Missouri.

You can apply for up to $50,000 in education loan repayments.

Eligibility: You must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be a Missouri resident
  • Be a primary care physician (i.e. family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology) or Doctor of Dentistry (i.e. general dentistry)
  • Be licensed to practice in Missouri
  • Agree to work in an HPSA in Missouri and provide primary care to the general population

How to Apply: Complete the Application for the Missouri Health Professional Loan Repayment Program.

Missouri Professional & Practical Nursing Student Loan Program

Summary: This program provides forgivable loans to students pursuing careers as licensed practical nurses or professional nurses in underserved areas of Missouri. Recipients can have these loans forgiven if they agree to provide full-time, direct patient care at any hospital in the State of Missouri or any facility located in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) in Missouri.

The maximum annual loan amount is $2,500 for LPN students and $5,000 for professional nursing students (Diploma, ADN, BSN, MSN, APN, DNP). Forgiveness is based on the number of loans received—one year of service for one loan, two years for two loans, etc. If you do not fulfill the work requirement, you must repay each loan with 9.5% simple interest.

Eligibility: You must:

  • Be a Missouri resident
  • Be attending a Missouri institution
  • Be seeking licensure as a practical or professional nurse
  • Be enrolled or accepted in a full-time program (with the exception of Doctoral students seeking Ph.D., D.N.P. or Ed.D.)—the nursing program must have an 80% pass rate
  • Maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA

How to Apply: Complete the Health Professional Student Loan Universal Application.

Nurse Loan Repayment Program (NLRP)

Summary: The NLRP provides financial assistance (i.e. help with repaying education loans) to practicing nurses who agree to work in communities and/or facilities that are experiencing nursing shortages in Missouri. In other words, a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

Doctoral nurses and advanced practice nurses can apply for loan repayments of up to $10,000 per year. Primary care registered nurses can apply for loan repayments of up to $5,000 per year.

Eligibility: You must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be a Missouri resident
  • Be an advanced practice nurses or registered nurse
  • Agree to work in an HPSA in Missouri

How to Apply: Complete the Application for the Missouri Health Professional Loan Repayment Program.

Primary Care Resource Initiative for Missouri (PRIMO) Student Loan Program

Summary: PRIMO awards forgivable loans to students pursuing healthcare training leading to Missouri licensure. Recipients can have these loans forgiven if they agree to provide full-time, direct patient care at a facility located in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) in Missouri. Eligible disciplines include primary care physicians, primary care dentists and dental hygienists.

Loan amounts range from $5,000 to $20,000 per year. Forgiveness is based on the number of loans received—one year of service for one loan, two years for two loans, etc. (Even if you receive more than five loans, employment is capped at five years.) If you do not fulfill the work requirement, you must repay each loan with 9.5% simple interest.

Eligibility: You must:

The Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS) has answers to PRIMO FAQs.

How to Apply: Complete the Health Professional Student Loan Universal Application.

Education Assistance for Missouri Military & Veterans

Missouri Returning Heroes’ Education Act

Summary: This act limits tuition charges at Missouri public colleges and universities (no more than $50 per credit hour) for combat veterans who served after September 11, 2001. Veterans should be enrolled in an undergraduate certificate or degree program.

The maximum award amount is based on your current enrollment and other financial assistance (e.g. grants and scholarships) for tuition & fees.

Eligibility: You must:

  • Be a Missouri resident at time of your entrance into the military
  • Be a U.S. veteran
  • Have seen active service in an armed combat zone, as designated by the U.S. Department of Defense, for more than 30 days since Sept. 11, 2001
  • Have been honorably discharged
  • Enroll in an undergraduate degree-seeking program at a Missouri public college or university

Veterans remain eligible for ten years after honorable discharge.

How to Apply: Talk to the Veterans Coordinator at your college/university for assistance. The Financial Aid Office will have an application form.

Missouri State Tuition Assistance (TA) for National Guard

Summary: This state program provides 100% tuition assistance for Missouri National Guard students with 10 years or less of military service and 50% tuition assistance for students with 10-17 years of service.

Tuition is paid at the rate of $245.60 per credit hour. The program covers up to 39 credit hours per year (15 credit hours for fall/15 credit hours for spring/9 credit hours for summer).

Eligibility: You must:

  • Remain in active military status for the semester/session for which you are receiving educational assistance
  • Apply for, and exhaust, your Federal TA before you can be awarded State TA
  • Enroll in an undergraduate degree program at a college or university that has been approved for Missouri State Tuition Assistance (you cannot have a prior undergraduate degree)
  • Maintain a cumulative 2.5 GPA

Soldiers who have not completed AIT, BOLC, or OCS are eligible to use State TA prior to applying for and using Federal TA. Soldiers who meet the one year requirement after completion of AIT, BOLC or OCS must apply and use Federal TA first. Talk to the Missouri National Guard for more details on eligibility requirements and exceptions.

How to Apply: Complete the State Tuition Assistance Application from the Missouri National Guard.

Wartime Veteran’s Survivor Grant

Summary: This grant is available to children and spouses of veterans whose deaths or injuries were a result of combat action or attributed to an illness contracted while serving in combat action and veterans who are 80% disabled as a result of injuries or accidents sustained in combat action since September 11, 2001. The veteran must have been a Missouri resident when first entering the military service or at the time of death or injury.

The maximum grant award covers the actual tuition charged for the number of hours in which you are enrolled or the amount of tuition charged to a Missouri resident who is enrolled in the same number of hours at the University of Missouri Columbia, whichever is less. There is an allowance of up to $2,000 per semester for room & board and up to $500 for books. Up to 25 grants are awarded each year.

Eligibility: Most importantly, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or otherwise lawfully present in the United States
  • Be a veteran’s spouse or dependent at the time of death or injury or a qualifying veteran who has been permanently disabled
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment at least half-time as an undergraduate student in a participating public college or university
  • Be less than 25 years of age if applying as a dependent (there is no age limit for spouses)
  • Maintain a cumulative 2.5 GPA

More info about renewal requirements, transfers and the application procedure can be found on the grant webpage.

How to Apply: Complete the Wartime Veteran’s Survivors Grant Program Application and return it to MDHE. Renewal students and students with the earliest application received dates have priority.

Contact the Missouri Veterans Commission (MVC) for more information on federal education benefits (e.g. GI Bill) and state initiatives.

Cheaper College Living in Missouri

College can put a huge strain on the family budget. We talk about various ways to save in our sections, but you may also wish to visit the Family Support Division (FSD) of the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS).

The FSD administers programs like food stamps, child care assistance, energy assistance and more. You can use the Pre-Eligibility Tool to see if you qualify for state aid before you apply for benefits & services.

Not eligible for state benefits? Call 2-1-1 or visit the website of 211 Missouri/Illinois. 211 is a free service (run by United Way) that connects you to all kinds of community agencies and non-profit organizations. Resource specialists can refer you to affordable education & vocational programs, job training, child care support, rent & utility assistance, food pantries—the list goes on. Your local Community Action Agency will also have info on low-income programs in your area.

On-Campus Housing

Room & board is always going to be one of your biggest annual expenses. Living in a dorm has great upsides—e.g. you’re not paying for commuting costs, rooms are typically furnished, utilities are included in the room rate, etc.—but universities continue to hike their prices.

To find out whether dorm living will be affordable, check the rates section on your university website. You can also use online college budget calculators (e.g. Yahoo.com and CalcXML.com) to help you compare on-campus costs (meal plans, dorm fees, etc.) with off-campus bills (rent, gas, utilities, etc.).

Ask if your school has a residency requirement. For example, all first-time MU students who are less than 20 years of age must spend their freshman year in campus housing; Missouri S&T freshmen, sophomores and students under the age of 21 are required to live in residence halls or in university-approved housing.

Worried that you can’t afford anything? Talk to your high school guidance counselor, your school’s residential life/housing coordinator and/or someone at the Financial Aid Office. You may be eligible for private & institutional scholarships or work-study programs that can help cover the cost of campus housing. For example, UMSL provides a limited number of housing scholarships for first-time freshmen living in Oak Hall.

Off-Campus Housing

Finding affordable off-campus housing in Missouri requires a bit of research. If you go to a commuter school—universities will little or no campus housing—your choice is made for you. According to U.S. News & World Report, 91% of UMSL students lived in apartments or at home in 2016. If you go to a big state school in a large city, you’ll probably find a lot of price variation. For instance, student apartment buildings have sprouted like weeds around MSU and UM. Some are like luxury hotels; some allow you to rent by the bedroom and come with all expenses included.

One place to begin your quest is the off-campus housing section of your school’s website. Most universities are pretty good about providing rental advice, resources and links to local listings. For example, SLU has a large directory of Off-Campus Housing Options and UM has an entire website devoted to Off-Campus Student Services. UM’s great checklists and worksheets (e.g. property comparison, household budget, property condition, etc.) are available for anyone to use.

You can expand your search by using Craigslist, campus-focused rental sites (e.g. CampusRent.com, ApartmentGuide.com, MyApartmentMap.com, etc.) and local messageboards. Unfortunately, because rents are almost always higher near campus, many low-income students end up in properties farther away. So keep in mind commuting times & costs. If you run into issues, the Missouri Homeless Shelter Directory on HomelessShelterDirectory.org has a list of emergency shelters and transitional housing opportunities.

Utilities

Always find out what utilities you are responsible for (e.g. electricity, heat, Internet, etc.) before you sign any lease or rental agreement. You can ask your prospective landlord or former tenants for a monthly estimate of these bills; utility company and city websites will also often have budgeting info. For example, the City of Columbia maintains a searchable database of Historical Electric and Water Usage for Rental Units and has some excellent tips on finding an energy-efficient rental.

Already own or rent your home? Live in a family that’s struggling with the basics? HUD.gov has a list of Missouri organizations that can help with utility bills, including the state-run LIHEAP program. Individual utility companies and the Salvation Army have their own initiatives (e.g. Operation Round Up, Heat Share, iShare, etc.) that are designed to support low-income residents.

Medical & Dental

Free—or, at least, cheap—medical care will be available at your university’s student health center. At minimum, these centers typically offer basic primary care, vaccinations, STD tests & contraception, help with substance abuse and mental health counseling. The bigger your school, the more services it’s likely to offer. For example, MSU’s Taylor Health & Wellness Center has wellness programs, an in-house radiology department and specialist consultations.

Another option is to try your community. Websites like FreeClinicDirectory.org and NeedyMeds.org maintain directories of Missouri community clinics and health centers that offer free or affordable medical care. Many of these centers offer mental health support, but you can also check the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s list of Community Mental Health Centers. The Mental Health Crisis/Suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Cheap dental care is a thornier challenge. The Oral Health Network of Missouri (OHNM) has a list of dental clinics that provide services for the uninsured or underinsured, which you can compare with Missouri listings on FreeDentalCare.us. Or you can investigate patient care services at dental schools and dental hygiene programs. For example, because it’s training dentistry students, UMKC’s School of Dentistry is willing to charge patients one-third to one-half the fees of private care.

Child Care

Thanks to pressure from parents, a number of Missouri colleges now provide campus daycare centers, including MWSU, UMSL, SEMO, MSU and more. Competition for spaces is always impressive, so it pays to apply early. While you’re there, you can also ask the staff if the school has any subsidy or discount programs. For instance, MSU-West Plains has a Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program for student parents with immediate financial need.

We’ve mentioned that the state of Missouri has a Child Care Assistance Program, but competition for that can be tough, too. If you get stuck, Child Care Aware of Missouri runs a free referral service and can offer detailed advice on child care costs & financial assistance. You can search for low-cost providers via their online database or call 866-892-3228 to speak with a Referral Specialist directly.

Transportation

Commuting costs always depend on personal circumstances—if you’ve got multiple part-time jobs or a family, your car is going to be your lifeline. Students in St. Louis may be able to get away with the Metro and sharing rides.

Whatever you choose, we still recommend a brief visit to the transportation section of your university’s website. That’s because this section has info on “hidden” programs you may not know about, including free campus shuttles, rideshares, bike rentals & co-ops, Zipcars, parking discounts, carpools and local transport discounts.

For example, Metro Transit in St. Louis offers Student Semester Passes and U Passes to students of Saint Louis Community College campuses, SIC, UMSL, Washington University and Webster University. National carriers like Greyhound and Amtrak also cut their fare prices for college students. Always ask if deals are available.

Food

You’ll find university-based food pantries at UM, UMSL, UMKC, UCM, MWSU, St. Louis Community College campuses and more. Across the nation, schools are offering discount meal plans, fresh food giveaways and even programs that provide leftover food from dining services to homeless or at-need students. Talk to your Financial Aid office if you’re finding it hard to make ends meet.

Your community will also be there for you. The Feeding Missouri Food Finder is one place to start; FoodPantries.org and HomelessShelterDirectory.org have similar directories. For emergency needs, Operation Food Search runs a Hunger Hotline—314-726-5355 x3—for Missouri residents. Plus, even if you don’t qualify for food stamps, you may be eligible for other state programs. New moms or moms-to-be should check out the Missouri WIC Program.

SEE ALSO: our Encyclopedic Guide to Saving Money as a College Student.

Find Support in Your Area

College in Kansas City on a Budget

The Paris of the Plains is the most expensive city on our list, but it’s still relatively affordable. According to Sperling’s Best Places, the overall cost of living in 2016 was below the national average. Housing costs were the cheapest category in the list; utilities costs were the priciest. The city has more miles of freeways per capita than any other 1 million+ metro area, so many students who don’t live right near campus end up driving or ridesharing. UMKC students are a walk away from the Plaza and 10 minutes from downtown.

Where to Go for Help in Kansas City

There are number of organizations committed to getting low-income and mid-income Kansas City residents to college. Here are a few:

Looking for specific social services? United Way of Greater Kansas City has a roll call of city-funded programs, divided by category (e.g. education, income, etc.). The website City of Kansas City, MO also has useful information on utilities, housing, transport and more.

College in St. Louis on a Budget

Thanks to lower housing & transportation costs, St. Louis has a cheaper overall cost of living than Kansas City (good news for UMSL students who have to live off campus). The Metro is fairly efficient, which expands your choices of neighborhoods, but watch out for high-crime areas. Also, within the city, renters are not responsible for water, sewer, or trash. If you don’t love the Gateway Arch, you can try the free activities in Forest Park (larger than Central Park) and entertainment options in the Delmar Loop.

Where to Go for Help in St. Louis

St. Louis can be a tough town for folks growing up in low-income areas. If you need a bit of assistance with getting to college, here are a few organizations to explore:

Looking for specific social services? United Way of Greater St. Louis has a long list of member agencies, which you can sort by category. The City of St. Louis also has useful information on utilities, housing, transport and more.

College in Springfield on a Budget

Springfield is a midsize city for those with a midsize budget. The overall cost of living is about the same as St. Louis, and all categories (e.g. utilities, housing, transportation, etc.) are below the national average. A car may not be necessary. MSU’s free shuttle bus—the Bear Line—can take students downtown and to off campus grocery stores. Others use the city bus. The downtown district has undergone a makeover, with artsy shops and coffee houses, and there are plenty of opportunities to escape to nature.

Where to Go for Help in Springfield

When it comes to preparing for college in Springfield, it pays to think local. Many city-based organizations are happy to help residents (both high school graduates and adult learners) achieve their dreams of higher education.

  • The Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) allows you to search for local college scholarships in an assortment of geographic areas. You’ll need to look at individual scholarship pages for instructions on how to apply.
  • Speaking of scholarships, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield awards more than $85,000 annually in college scholarships to former Club members and staff pursuing a degree in higher education. It also runs a number of career development, education support and mentorship programs for high school youth.
  • Ozarks Technical Community College operates an Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) program to help adult learners with ESL, preparation for Missouri HSE exams, college admission and career training. Learning centers are scattered throughout multiple counties.
  • Ozarks Literacy Council provides literacy programs for children and families and individualized one-on-one tutoring for adults.

Looking for specific social services? United Way of the Ozarks serves 14 counties in Southern Missouri and has a list of partner agencies. The City of Springfield, MO also has useful information on utilities, housing, transport and more.

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