MU offers first-generation college students full scholarship

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | 2:26 p.m. CDT; updated 10:44 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Missouri lags behind the national average in the number of residents who finish college degrees.

According to U.S. Census data, about 24 percent of Missourians had completed at least a bachelor’s degree in 2006. The national average was 28 percent.

To help improve these percentages, MU unveiled a new program last week that aims to create full scholarships for first-generation college students in Missouri. First-generation students are those who are the first from their family to attend college and earn a degree.

Students will begin benefitting from the scholarships, which are a part of the University of Missouri Flagship Scholars program, this fall.

Eventually, program coordinators hope to identify donors in each of Missouri’s 114 counties and the city of St. Louis to pay for one resident’s education.

Currently, three scholarships have been funded and will be awarded to students in Audrain, Caldwell and Marion counties.

“Here in Audrain county, we are blessed with people who support Mizzou and students seeking a higher education,” said Renee Samm, board member for Audrain County MU Alumni Association.

As more donors are identified and more funds become available, the Flagship Scholars program plans to extend the scholarship statewide. Each year, $15,000 will be awarded to the recipients. The scholarship will pay for room and board, classes, books and other related expenses.

“We know the cost of education is beginning to rise, and it’s critical that the University of Missouri does something to help,” said Jo Turner, director of development for the University of Missouri County Scholars., a financial Web site, reported that MU students graduate with an average debt of $18,983.

For first-generation students, finding the money to go to college can be difficult.

“I have a lot of grants and scholarships, so school is affordable for me,” said Danielle Copeland, a junior in communications who is the first from her family to attend college.

Copeland said her mother had to work extra hours to pay off debt that her financial aid didn’t cover.

The scholarship will help alleviate some of the pressure placed on families as they try to pay for a child’s college education.

“Having a full ride would benefit a student and a family tremendously,” Copeland said. “I know personally it was hard to pay off debt in the beginning.”

The scholars program must raise $60,000 to fund each county scholarship. Once this amount is received, those students who qualify and who have been accepted will receive an invitation to apply for the full scholarship. Students are required to submit a résumé highlighting leadership and community service, along with an essay. The applicant’s materials are reviewed, and selected students are interviewed. A review committee selects the county winner based on their résumé, essay and interview.

The fall recipients will be announced Thursday.

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Amber Hanneken April 30, 2008 | 10:26 p.m.

So it sounds like us out-of-state students are still out of luck. My debt is going to be much greater than that.
What does "First Generation" mean? That your parents haven't been to college? Or does it include your grandparents and their parents?

(Report Comment)
Nichole Wade May 13, 2008 | 10:03 a.m.

I emailed Jo Turner to ask her some of your questions.

These are her answers

Q: For the Flagship Scholarships, how is "first in family" defined?
A: The Flagship Scholarships give priority to "first in family" or first-generation students. A student will be considered as first in-family or first-generation if neither of the student's biological parents has completed a bachelor's degree. However, any person who meets the eligibility criteria may apply. When the selection committee reviews the applications, they will use a scoring formula that weights the educational status of parents, guardians, and siblings, as well as other factors such as need, academic ability, and service experiences.

Q: Why is the Flagship Scholarship program limited to Missouri residents? Will there be help for out of state residents?

A: The name “University of Missouri Flagship Scholars” was chosen to celebrate the University of Missouri in Columbia’s role as the “flagship” or original campus of the University of Missouri System. It reflects the unique leadership role that the campus plays in serving the entire state. The first goal will be to raise money establish the scholarship for each county, but we welcome support from donors who might want to support similar scholarships for out of state residents.

Linda "Jo" Turner, Ph.D.
University of Missouri Flagship Scholars Program

I hope this helps.
Nichole Wade

(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken July 21, 2008 | 2:38 p.m.

I am only now finding your response. That was very thoughtful. Thanks a lot for finding that information.

(Report Comment)
Maria Snodgrass October 21, 2010 | 7:47 p.m.

Hello- My daughter has applied and been accepted to the University of Missouri, her name is Emily Snodgrass. She will be the first in our family to attend college and we live in Macon County Missouri. Could you please tell me what first in family scholarships she can apply for or will University of Missouri automatically know from her application that she is the first in the family to go to college and award her a scholarship. Thank you! Maria Snodgrass
You may e-mail me at

(Report Comment)

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