Education Policy Statement
By 2018, approximately 60 percent of all jobs in Missouri will require some form of postsecondary education — a professional certificate or a two-year, four-year or advanced degree. The future of Missouri depends on ensuring that a quality college education is an affordable option for all Missouri families. With this in mind, an effective policy framework in Missouri should promote attainment at all levels of education: early childhood, elementary and secondary, two-year programs, four-year programs and graduate programs.
As a significant participant in Missouri higher education, Missouri State University seeks to do its part to promote education attainment in Missouri, focusing principally on four-year and graduate programs. Missouri State is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs, including the professional doctorate. The growth of the university, which has increased in enrollment in 19 of the past 21 years, now stands at 24,116 for the Springfield campus — making it the second largest university campus in the state of Missouri. Missouri State students are from nearly every county in Missouri, 47 states and 90 countries.
Missouri State University has a keen interest in the formulation of higher education policy for the state of Missouri. It is imperative that Missouri’s policies promote four important components of higher education: access, success, affordability and economic development.
Policies should be directed at reducing barriers for prospective students to enroll in an appropriate undergraduate or graduate degree program. These barriers are often financial, geographic or due to a lack of information or available degree programs. Policies that promote access include:
- Need-based financial aid programs like Access Missouri
- Efforts to bring degree programs closer to students’ residences through online programs, satellite locations and development of degree programs at campuses throughout the state
- Developing additional professional degree programs in fields of critical workforce need (and high student demand) like science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as health care and business
- Efforts to educate first-generation and underrepresented prospective students about college enrollment and financial aid
Policies should be directed at graduating students and developing them into successful members of Missouri’s workforce. Policies that promote success include:
- Merit-based financial aid programs like Bright Flight
- Efforts to increase retention and graduation rates
- Efforts to reduce time and credit hours required for graduation, develop appropriate career and degree pathways for students, and reduce the need for remedial education
- Initiatives to promote a campus climate that allows students to develop meaningful relationships and to learn and succeed without interference
- Curricular processes directed at developing course work and academic programs that equip students to succeed in their careers
- Efforts to track graduates and monitor career outcomes
Policies should be directed at keeping college affordable. Tuition and fees at Missouri’s public universities have had the lowest rate of increase than any other state in the nation since 2008. It is important that Missouri continue to be a national leader in college affordability. Policies that promote affordability include:
- Efforts to keep tuition and fees from rising faster than inflation
- Ensuring that state appropriations are sufficient to cover increases to the costs of operating a university and providing a high quality education
- Reducing costly regulations on students and universities through mandated testing, reporting requirements and the like
- Preserving local control of universities by their governing boards and resisting efforts to regulate on specific issues of higher education governance like fee structures, student housing, curriculum, etc.
Universities have emerged as a powerful component of regional and state economic development in Missouri. Universities develop their communities through partnerships and specific initiatives like grant administrations, research and innovation centers, business incubators and business development centers. Policies that promote higher education’s role in economic development include:
- Efforts to incentivize university partnership with non-profit groups to address regional and statewide needs and concerns
- Initiatives to encourage the use of university expertise and resources to assist in developing entrepreneurial and private business ventures
- Efforts to promote public-private partnerships
- Initiatives to promote relevant research