New report shows where college-bound Missourians live

The report has not yet been analyzed for rural and urban differences.

The Missouri Departments of Education and Higher Education released a report June 9 showing a map of where students are filing Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms in Missouri.

The map was compiled from 2010 FAFSA reports filed within the state. MDHE created the report to identify where college-bound students live.

MDHE spokeswoman Kathy Love said the map has not yet been analyzed to find correlations between the need for financial aid and the affluence of an area, the quality of education or the students' location.

“It would be an interesting further study to do that, but I think the map kind of illustrates by itself the areas where students are not preparing to go to college,” she said. “That gives us an idea that maybe we need to be doing some outreach, working with students, even as young as middle school, to let them know that college is within their reach, but that it takes preparation. They need to prepare academically and they need to prepare financially if college is in their goal.”

Although almost every county on the map has a mix of high and low percentage areas, many counties in northeast Missouri have more students filling out the FAFSA than those in southwest Missouri, according to the report.

The map shows that 59.5 percent of Missouri high school seniors filled out the FAFSA. Statewide, that total is comprised of 73,065 12th graders. Additionally, 63,919 high school graduates and 43,486 11th graders filed the form.

Love said filling out the FAFSA is a good sign someone is preparing for college.

“Almost everyone who intends to go to college needs to submit a FAFSA because that is the first step to receiving financial aid,” Love said. “Perhaps if they think that they’re not going to need financial aid of any sort, then they wouldn’t file, but most students do.”

Jim Brooks, former Director of the Office of Student Financial Aid at MU, said filing the FAFSA is the first step to receiving most forms of financial aid.

“A student must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to receive any financial aid that takes need into consideration,” Brooks said in an email. “This could include federal, state, and institutional grants, as well as federal work study. Students must also file the FAFSA in order to be considered for federal student loans.”

Brooks said more than 23,000 MU students filed the FAFSA during the past academic year.

MDHE holds “FAFSA frenzy events” where it helps parents and students fill out the form.

“Those are events that are generally held from late January to mid-March where parents and students are encouraged to come to the event and get one-on-one assistance with preparing the FAFSA online,” Love said. “Typically we’ll have 100-plus parents and students turn out for those events, and everybody on the staff volunteers the time to help fill out the FAFSA and make sure that they get them submitted.”

MDHE encourages students to plan for their future academically and financially, according to a department news release.

“One of our goals as an agency is to help students overcome the obstacles that might prevent them from enrolling in and graduating from college,” Leroy Wade, assistant commissioner for financial aid at the MDHE, said in a news release. "Student financial aid is available from a variety of programs. The first step for almost all of them is to file a FAFSA.”

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