Grants help pay way for SEMO students

Saturday, July 20, 2002

Paying for college just got a little easier for Frances Jenkins.

The Oak Ridge, Mo., mother, who currently works three jobs including a night shift at a local convenience store, is one of nearly 200 financially strapped Southeast Missouri State University students who will receive a Bridge to Success grant for the 2002-2003 academic year.

"I was really happy to see it," said Jenkins. "It helps. That is money I don't have to worry about paying back," said Jenkins, who depends largely on federal student loans to stay in school.

Southeast launched the program this summer to help students who otherwise would have a tough time paying for college, particularly in the face of substantial fee increases that have the school's in-state students paying as much as $3,744 a year in tuition.

The Board of Regents established the scholarship program after an internal study of student financial aid and scholarships determined that nearly 15 percent of in-state, full-time freshmen and sophomores enrolled at Southeast last fall had a combined unmet financial need of more than $165,000.

University officials said students received need-based scholarships ranging from $150 to $1,000.

The amount is calculated on the basis of financial aid forms students submit to the university. Southeast also took into account financial aid students already are receiving in determining eligibility for the grant money. Returning students also had to carry at least a 2.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

Son's future

Jenkins has a 12-year-old son. She worried about financing her son's future college education while at the same time thinking about how she will pay off her own college debt.

"It's a lot to worry about," said Jenkins, a sophomore dietetics major who hopes to work in food service management when she graduates from college in several years.

Dr. Pauline Fox, vice president for administration and enrollment management, said the goal of the Bridge to Success program is to make higher education affordable for students.

"As far as we have been able to determine, Southeast Missouri State University is the only public university in Missouri with a program to assist students with unmet financial need," Fox said.

The university, through its fund-raising foundation, wants to establish a $2 million endowment over the next several years with the annual interest from the fund then used for need-based scholarships.

The foundation plans to use money generated from its operation of the Cape Girardeau and Jackson license bureaus to help finance the program.

As of May, the foundation had $225,000 in reserve, saved up from the operation of the two license bureaus over the past decade, to put toward the scholarship program.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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