MOHELA's Loan Forgiveness
Expenses are a factor that may discourage students from pursuing higher education. The engineering field has felt the pinch.
"It is expensive, and I'm going to end up with loans after I graduate," said Ryan Carlyle, a MU chemical engineering student.
The United States used to dominate the field of engineering, but that balance has shifted.
"Compared to India, compared to China, we are way behind," said Lex Akers, associate dean for the MU College of Engineering.
"Nationally, the United States is struggling to get people to enter into science, engineering areas," said Evelyn Jorgenson, president of Moberly Area Community College (MACC).
Kumar Krishnamurthy is from India, and pursuing a career in engineering made sense for him.
"I come from a location where there are engineer all around," he said. "So I was born with Ph.D's, I'm just from that background."
MACC awarded about 500 degrees and certificates in the 2005-2006 school year. Seven were designed to put students into the engineering field. The hope is that a new prospective engineers program will encourage more students to enter the field.
The program will offer loan forgiveness to first-time freshmen entering an engineering or pre-engineering program. If they meet the academic standards set by MOHELA, those students can get up to $3,500 in loan forgiveness. A goal of the new Prospective Engineers Program is to encourage students to enter a two-year program like the one at Moberly, and then transfer to a four-year program.
"It'll allow the junior colleges, the four-year schools without engineering, to bring students on in the first couple of semesters, the first couple of years in fact, get them in engineering types of courses," said Akers.
"We would like to see those really bright students go into those technical science fields, get that associate of science degree, and then transfer on to the University of Missouri or Rolla and be successful. We know they can do it," said Jorgenson.
Educators hope the prospective engineers program will make getting into engineering a little easier. The program will go into effect starting with the 2007-2008 school year. MOHELA announced the program along with a similar program aimed at science and math teachers.