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July 18, 2022

Second in Equity Report Series highlights financial barriers to higher education

The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development’s Office of Postsecondary Policy has released part two in its Equity in Missouri Higher Education Report. The second part of the report is focused on student issues in accessing higher education and progressing through their college career. The report is part of a series, highlighting student stories and data from a 2020 survey completed by nearly 10,000 Missouri college students.

The costs associated with higher education represent a barrier to access for Missouri students. “For individuals earning $30,000, the state median income, 92 percent of their income would be required to attend the state’s four-year institutions full time. As a result, students and families with low to modest incomes face an incredible financial barrier in accessing higher education,” the report points out.

Other information relayed in the Equity Report includes the impact that the financial burden of higher education has, not only on students and their families, but enrollment numbers. Enrollment has fallen 20 percent over the last 10 years. Those who do enroll, especially BIPOC students and individuals with disabilities, face additional challenges such as food and housing insecurity.

“While balancing work, school, family obligations, and the difficulty of coursework are factors in access and progress, this report clearly shows that to students, cost is their biggest obstacle,” said Leroy Wade, interim commissioner for higher education. “It’s important we recognize these issues and continue to find ways to better serve and accommodate students.”

To read the full report, visit https://dhewd.mo.gov/Equity_Project/. A third and final report in the series is expected to be released later this year with a focus on student completion outcomes, and the student experience dealing with financial aid after they have reached the stage of their postsecondary journey where they try to leverage their college experience into a meaningful working career.

Additionally, the 2022 Equity Summit, entitled Re-framing the Narrative, is on tap for late October. Registration for that event is coming soon. Find more information and presentation proposal requests at https://eduvents.dhewd.mo.gov/2022equitysummit-proposals/.