State grant set to give free tuition and books to adult students

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COLUMBIA - The Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant will fully pay for tuition and books for two years.

The program requires individuals to be at least 25-years-old, or to have been out of school for at least two years.

It is intended to serve students who do not have a bachelor's degree and who make no more than $40,000 per year.

The program will officially start Wednesday, August 28th.

The grant is designed to promote "Missouri's Big Goal," which is to have 60 percent of adults earn a quality certificate by 2025.

The program offers degrees and training in a wide variety of areas, including accountancy, automotive collision repair, and nursing.

An influx of nurses could impact Central Missouri. 

There are 722 unfilled registered nurse positions in the area, according to the Missouri Department of Economic Development. That is more than three times the need listed for any other specially trained profession.

An official with Regional Economic Development Incorporated (REDI) said when you look at labor supply and demand across the state, health care is a big deal.

The grant is only offered at certain universities and certificate programs. Local institutions include the University of Missouri and Lincoln University.

State Technical College of Missouri is also eligible.

KOMU 8 spoke with one local mechanic, who voiced concerns about the program. He said the problem is not securing money for tuition, but finding a way to stay afloat financially as a full-time student.

The Director of Financial Aid at State Technical College said this is not just an opportunity for individuals, but the entire state of Missouri.

"Our mission is to get people into the work force. Anything we can do get people into that technical education, into that work force and then to stay and work in the state of Missouri is the win," Becky Whithaus said.

Whithaus added that the best way to access the application is through the student portal on the Missouri Department of Higher Education's website.