Staff Diversity Composition Initiative
In furtherance of Missouri State University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, the university has established a Staff Diversity Composition Initiative (“SDCI”), whereby the university offers forgivable educational loans (“Forgivable Loans”) to eligible staff members who have exhibited a demonstrated commitment to the university’s diversity initiatives, in an effort to assist staff members in obtaining advanced degrees that will aid them in pursuing their chosen career paths.
In order to be considered for a Forgivable Loan, a staff member (“Candidate”) must complete and submit an application, including a recommendation from their department supervisor or the administrator of their cost center that the Candidate be considered for a Forgivable Loan. The application will then be reviewed by the SDCI Oversight Committee (as defined herein), who will make a recommendation to the president as to whether the Candidate should be awarded a Forgivable Loan in light of certain eligibility criteria approved by the president.
A Forgivable Loan will not be awarded to a Candidate (a) for a degree that could be obtained at Missouri State University by accessing the credit course fee waiver; or (b) absent the Candidate’s written commitment to provide a designated period of service to his/her sponsoring department following successful completion of the advanced degree at issue, with the designated period of service spanning one (1) year for each $10,000 in Forgivable Loans awarded.
Composition of SDCI Oversight Committee
The SDCI Oversight Committee will be comprised of the following individuals:
- Director of Human Resources
- Staff Senate representative
- Chief Diversity Officer
- Associate Vice President International Education and Training, International Programs
- Associate Provost for Student Development and Public Affairs
- General Counsel, ex officio
Determination of Application of Forgivable Loan
The SDCI Oversight Committee will convene and consider the Candidate’s application, including:
- At least one (1) letter of recommendation from a university administrator;
- Official transcripts of all prior collegiate academic work; and
- An essay of interest (minimum of 2 pages), including:
- The Candidate’s interest in and commitment to diversity initiatives involving race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, veteran’s status, first generation students, etc.
- The Candidate’s connection and commitment to university and stated intention and desire to work at the university in a particular capacity;
- A description of the Candidate’s interest in participating in the SDCI;
- The Candidate’s short-term and long-term professional career goals;
- The Candidate’s academic goals or plan of study (i.e., doctorate or other graduate or professional degree); and
- The Candidate’s personal qualities, research and/or technical skills that may enhance the university community, including the university’s diversity initiatives.
Following a review of the Candidate’s application, the SDCI Oversight Committee will make a recommendation to the president as to whether a Forgivable Loan should be awarded to the Candidate and, if so, in what amount and for what duration. The president’s determination shall be final.
Funding of Forgivable Loan
In the event that a Candidate is awarded a Forgivable Loan, the Forgivable Loan shall comprise no more than two-thirds (⅔) of the anticipated total cost of tuition, fees and books for the advanced degree at issue, with the Candidate responsible for funding the remaining one-third (⅓) of the total cost. With respect to the amount funded by the university, one-half (½) of the amount will be funded by the President’s Enhancement Fund, and the other one-half (½) will be funded by the sponsoring department. The maximum amount that the university will loan a Candidate is $10,000 per year, for a maximum of 4 years.
For example, assume that a Candidate is awarded a Forgivable Loan, and that the anticipated total cost of tuition, fees and books is $12,000 per year. The Candidate would be responsible for funding $4,000 per year, with the university funding up to $8,000 per year. Of the $8,000 per year funded by the university, $4,000 would be funded by the President’s Enhancement Fund and the remaining $4,000 would be funded by the sponsoring department.
Taxability of Forgivable Loan
Consistent with IRS regulations, the amount of the Forgivable Loan advanced by the university to the Candidate is considered taxable income and will be included in the Candidate’s W-2.
Mechanism of Loan Forgiveness
Upon the award of a Forgivable Loan, the Candidate will be required to execute a Forgivable Loan Program Agreement, which specifies the amount of the loan that the university will provide to the Candidate, as well as the minimum period of time for which the Candidate must agree to return to the university and work within the sponsoring department upon the successful completion of the advanced degree. Thereafter, the university will forgive the loan in stages, as the Candidate completes the agreed term of work (i.e., at the rate of $10,000 per year of service following advanced degree completion).
Academic Progress and Timeline for Completion
Once a Candidate has been awarded a Forgivable Loan and commenced work on the advanced degree at issue, the Candidate must submit to the SDCI Oversight Committee a transcript of each semester’s work and then, following the completion of all required course work, documentation of progress made toward completion of any thesis or dissertation, as applicable. The SDCI Oversight Committee will periodically review the academic progress of the Candidate and report in writing to the president and major administrator of the sponsoring unit as to whether adequate advancement toward the advanced degree is being made.
Should the president, after consultation with the SDCI Oversight Committee, determine that a Candidate is not making satisfactory progress, the Candidate will be notified and no additional funds will be granted pursuant to the prior award of a Forgivable Loan. Moreover, if at any time a Candidate’s GPA falls below 3.0 or the Candidate receives a grade of “C” or below on their transcript on the applicable coursework, absent exceptional circumstances, the university’s obligation terminates.
Students are expected to successfully complete the program within four (4) years.
In the event that a Candidate fails to successfully complete the advanced degree, the Candidate will be required to repay the university for the amount of the Forgivable Loan, under the terms and conditions set forth in the Forgivable Loan Program Agreement.