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June 20, 2013

New Advisory Board will Aid Higher Education Outreach

Jefferson City - The Missouri Department of Higher Education is accepting nominations for its new College Access Advisory Committee. The committee will advise the agency about outreach tools to improve Missouri's college-attainment rates and help minority, low-income or other underrepresented populations to attend and succeed in college.

Nominations to the committee are sought from among college access professionals, financial aid officers, high school guidance counselors and other education professionals with experience in their respective fields. The nomination form is available on the MDHE website, www.dhe.mo.gov. Nominations will be reviewed beginning in August. The 16- to 24-member committee is expected to meet twice a year. The first meeting will be scheduled in the fall.

Missouri has set a goal of raising the percentage of Missourians with a degree or high quality certificate from 46 percent to 60 percent of the population by 2025. It is expected that more than 60 percent of jobs will require some form of postsecondary preparation by 2018.

Improving opportunities for minorities, low-income and other underrepresented groups to obtain a college degree provides additional earning power for the graduates, reduces cycles of generational poverty and benefits the state's economy. But underrepresented groups face hurdles that more mainstream and affluent populations typically do not encounter.

Commissioner of Higher Education David Russell said that without additional support and guidance, students may be unaware of application deadlines, financial aid opportunities and the need for appropriate academic preparation.

"The Department of Higher Education strives to create a college-going culture in Missouri," Russell said. "If the state is to fulfill its potential for economic growth, we must invest in our human capital by preparing youths and working adults with the knowledge and skills they need to be fulfilled and productive citizens. This advisory committee will help guide our outreach efforts to instill in Missourians a greater appreciation for the value of postsecondary education and the need to start planning early."