Online-based university students granted in-state status

Feb 13, 2014

Western Governors University-Missouri students are now eligible for the Access Missouri grant.

The Missouri State Senate Appropriations Committee found out during their hearing on higher education Tuesday that Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order last year which established WGU-Missouri students as in-state students. As in-state students, WGU-Missouri students are eligible to apply for the Access Missouri grant, which will provide up to $2,850 of state aid for eligible candidates in the 2014-2015 school year.

Western Governors University is based out of Utah, but has five other locations in Indiana, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Missouri. The Missouri branch of Western Governors University was established in 2013 by Gov. Jay Nixon.

WGU-Missouri Chancellor Angie Besendorfer said the university targets working-age people that have some college experience, but have yet to achieve a degree. “Most of them [our students] are employed and this is an avenue to keep their job or get a promotion in the place that they’re at,” Besendorfer said.

State aid for Western Governors University – Missouri students was approved by the Department of Higher Education in late January. State Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) said it was a surprise to the Appropriations Committee that students of the online university will be eligible for the Access Missouri grant.

“I don’t necessarily see the advantage of the advantage of the Western Governors University, and now that it’s going to be taking away money from Missourians, I see some real problems with it,” Pearce said.

Access Missouri is a need-based grant for in-state students at both private and public universities. Texas is the only state with a Western Governors University branch that does not have a program similar to Access Missouri available for WGU students.