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Program Aims To Help Missourians Go Back To College, Finish Uncompleted Degrees

College and graduation illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Public Radio
The Institute for Higher Education Policy's Degrees When Due program aims to work with the more than 75,000 Missourians who have college credits under their belt but not yet a degree.

Missouri is joining 20 other states in a nationwide initiative to attract students who’ve put a hold on their college education back in the classroom.

Degrees When Due, a program of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, offers colleges and universities tools to work with students who hit pause on their higher education. 

In Missouri, more than 75,000 people have two years' worth of college credits under their belts but don’t have a degree. Officials with the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development hope the initiative will change that.

Angelette Prichett is the director of academic affairs with the department. She said there are a multitude of reasons why some students don’t finish their education, including cost and timing. Prichett said the initiative allows those students to finish what they’ve started. 

“They don’t realize how close they are to actually completing a degree or credential,” she said. “And so this really allows the opportunity for them to say, ‘Hey, you know what? We saw that you were very close to finishing but only have a couple of courses left,' or maybe you’re completely finished and they just aren’t aware.”

Colleges and universities will have access to an interactive online tool and live coaching to train those working in the registrar’s office or any other student services offices on how to reach out to and identify students who are near the finish line get their degree.

“This would enable institutions to really have a means for kind of looking from the technical side; how can we reach out to those students?” Prichett said. “How can we find those students? And how can we get those students back in our doors, so that they’re able to complete their degrees in a timely manner?”

Many jobs require the completion of a degree or certain credentials to move up the ladder in their career fields. 

“Be it a certificate, be it an associate degree, be it a bachelor’s degree — this is really a way of ensuring that students are able to complete and really be able to take advantage of all of the advantages a degree or credential can provide,” she said.

In addition, Prichett said, having a more educated workforce will benefit the state as a whole.

Nineteen Missouri universities and colleges are participating, including the University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Charles Community College and Harris-Stowe State University.

Follow Marissanne on Twitter: @Marissanne2011

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Marissanne is the afternoon newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.