Officials with the Mo. Department of Higher Education have renewed a College Access Challenge Grant for Missouri State University-West Plains to continue funding its “Project Threshold” program designed to help students, prospective students and their families learn about, prepare for and finance a postsecondary education.


Officials with the Mo. Department of Higher Education have renewed a College Access Challenge Grant for Missouri State University-West Plains to continue funding its “Project Threshold” program designed to help students, prospective students and their families learn about, prepare for and finance a postsecondary education.

The grant, in the amount of $99,941 has been approved for one year, and university officials are hopeful the program will continue in future years.

Dean of Student Services Dr. Herb Lunday said university officials were very pleased with the renewal.

Project Threshold embraces the premise that postsecondary education is the “threshold” to opportunities in the lives and careers of south-central Missouri citizens.  The project incorporates multiple activities designed to effectively increase the postsecondary education participation of under-served populations in the university’s official service region – Howell, Oregon, Shannon, Texas, Wright, Douglas and Ozark Counties.  These substantial outreach efforts target all area residents, but primarily focus on the area’s public school districts, private academies, non-traditional students and GED recipients.

Through Project Threshold, university officials will continue to provide information to students and families on postsecondary education benefits, career opportunities, planning and preparation; provide information on financing options, including activities that promote financial literacy and debt management among students and families; conduct outreach activities for students who may be at risk of not enrolling in or completing college; and assist students in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Initiatives that will benefit from the continued funding include:
• the university’s High School Extravaganza programs, which stress that college is affordable, accessible and appropriate for all high school graduates;
• the annual Red Carpet Day program, which brings high school juniors and seniors to the West Plains campus to provide information about admission, financial aid processes and scholarships, student life, and academic programs;
• the annual career/job fair hosted by the Career Services Office in partnership with the South Central Career Center and the West Plains R-7 School District;
• the Grizzly Mentor program, which activates community leaders throughout the university’s service region to mentor college prospects of any age to consider higher education;
• the Campus Caravan program, which invites citizens of individual communities throughout the service region to an entertaining showcase of information about higher educational opportunities;
• on-campus school personnel conferences for superintendents, counselors and A+ Program coordinators designed to update school officials about changes, upcoming events and accomplishments at the university and facilitate communication with and between school officials in the service region;
• an early outreach program for middle school students designed to raise awareness about all aspects and advantages of attending college;
• financial aid workshops at each of the 23 high schools throughout the service region that will provide information to students and parents about federal, state, institutional and private aid sources.  A special emphasis will be given to helping attendees understand the FAFSA.

The College Access Challenge Grant program was created as part of the federal College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, which awarded over $1 million in federal grant funds to the state of Missouri as part of a national effort to better serve students who are underrepresented in postsecondary education.

For more information, contact Dr. Herb Lunday at 417-255-7255.