Few University programs exist to help low-income students

Kelly Wilson, Student Support Center Director

Kelly Wilson, Student Support Center Director

T.J. Gerlach

Few programs at Missouri Southern are specifically aimed at low-income students; however, there are several programs that can help these students.

James Gilbert, director of student financial aid, said more than one half of financial aid funds goes to “needy” students. He said approximately 3,500 of the 4,700 students receiving aid at Southern qualify as needy.

Gilbert said anyone that receives a Pell Grant is a “needy” student. He said approximately 2,500 students at Southern receive a Pell Grant.

“Students need to apply and apply early and apply on time. That way they get the best chance of getting the funds,” Gilbert said.

Derek Skaggs, director of enrollment services, said financial aid often works with lower-income students.

“We don’t take into consideration someone’s financial credentials [when looking over applications],” Skaggs said.

He said academic records are considered more than financial records.

“We actively recruit them (low-income students),” Skaggs said. “We try to do early awareness programs for all students [especially for Upward Bound students].”

Upward Bound works with lower-income, high school students to prepare them for college. Similar programs exist at several institutions in the region, such as Crowder College and the University of Arkansas.

Project STAY is another program offered by the Univer-sity to aid low-income, first-generation college students. Project STAY is supported by federal funding. The program receives $228,825 annually from the Department of Education.

Project STAY helps students develop the skills needed for college.

The program also helps students with tutoring and aides them in filling out federal grant applications.

The student support center is open to all students.

It offers various services to students.

“We can act as a referral,” said Kelly Wilson, director of the student support center.

“For instance, if they need to see what other services are available, we can make contacts with different community services to make sure they understand what their rights and responsibilities are.”

The student support center can act as a referral service for economic security, family services and other types of organizations.

Wilson said the center can also act as a liaison or, with written permission, speak on behalf of a student when dealing with some of these organizations.

“A lot of times students really don’t even know where to begin,” Wilson said. “So, we have those community resource contacts here.”

The center also offers free counseling and career and life-planning classes. All services are free to students.

For more information on the student support center, call 625-9234.