Missouri Higher Education | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Higher Education

College and graduation illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri is joining 20 other states in a nationwide initiative to attract students who’ve put a hold on their college education back in the classroom.

Degrees When Due, a program of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, offers colleges and universities tools to work with students who hit pause on their higher education. 

In Missouri, more than 75,000 people have two years' worth of college credits under their belts but don’t have a degree. Officials with the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development hope the initiative will change that.

Respiratory care students Harry Painter Jr. and Darielle Griffin work with a mannequin to get hands-on training at St. Louis Community College's new healthcare facility on the Forest Park campus. OCt. 24, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After counting out the last in a series of chest compressions, Harry Painter Jr. sets up a nebulizer and begins piping oxygen into his patient’s lungs.

“Mr. Jones, you scared us there. How are you feeling?” he asks. The lifelike mannequin blinks back. 

Everything around Painter looks exactly as it would in a hospital, but this is a simulation room at St. Louis Community College’s new health care facility on the Forest Park campus.

Missouri students spending more money to earn degrees want to know they’re making a sound investment in their future. That’s why college administrators have started steering them toward in-demand professions like education and nursing, where they’re all but guaranteed jobs. 

It’s a pathway to get students to and through college with less debt when they graduate. But some students and professors say Missouri’s colleges and universities still have an obligation to provide a well-rounded liberal arts education, and are tired of having to defend their majors every time state lawmakers propose another round of cuts.

Rachel Shriver is set to graduate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City next year but she’s already thinking about how her two kids are going to pay for college a decade from now. 

She’s had a tough path to this point: She had her first kid when she was young and most of her family never made it to college. “I'm just hoping to have a better life with my kids … that’s the whole reason I’m in school,” Shriver said.

Mo. college loan agency MOHELA to process federal loans

Sep 28, 2011
Field of students at a graduation
j.o.h.n. walker | Flickr

Missouri's college loan agency plans to start collecting payments in October from students who got loans from the federal government.

The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority says it is the first state-based nonprofit organization to be approved to handle federal loan payments since a 2010 law required the U.S. Department of Education to originate all federally backed student loans. That law essentially eliminated a role for banks and private lenders.