JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s “Fast Track” incentive grant program to help adults obtain college degrees or receive advanced job training is now being considered by the House Economic Development Committee.
The program was adopted in 2019 to increase the number of Missourians with a college degree and bolster the state’s workforce with more trained and qualified job applicants. After the sunset clause expired on the initial 2019 measure, the state Senate passed a seven-year extension of the program by a vote of 24-8 in late-February.
The program was originally championed by Gov. Mike Parson, who has called for a permanent extension. During the governor’s 2022 State of the State address, he applauded the program and noted its 65% increase in participation throughout 2021. According to Parson, 80% of Fast Track recipients were women and 50% were first-generation university students.
If the measure is voted through committee, it will then go to the House floor for debate and a final vote. If officially passed, the bill would expand eligibility to apprenticeships and other training programs for adults throughout Missouri.
A provision in the original Fast Track program converted grants to loans if a recipient did not graduate or get a job and remain in Missouri for at least three years. Under the newly proposed bill, financial penalties will not be given to those who don’t wish to stay in Missouri or to those who decide not to work.
However, recipients now will be required to have been Missouri residents for the previous two years, with an exception for transferred military members.
Scholarships will be offered for up to four total semesters for each applicant. The current Fast Track budget sits at $5.7 million.
Additional qualifications for the grants are as follows:
- Missouri residents must be 25 years old and must not have been enrolled in school in the last two years.
- Must enroll as a part-time student.
- Has not earned a Bachelor’s degree yet.
- Is not earning more than $80,000 while filing jointly and no more than $40,000 per year for a single tax filer.
Those interested in applying for a Fast Track grant can visit the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development’s “Journey to College” website.