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Missouri’s community colleges offer affordable and flexible pathways to success

(Jefferson City, Mo.) — As April marks Community College Month, the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA) is reminded of these institutions' crucial role in providing affordable and accessible higher education opportunities to students across the state.

Missouri is experiencing record-low unemployment, and a recent study shows that more trained workers are needed to maintain economic growth in the state. According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, 60% of employers reported a need for more skilled workers as a barrier to growth.

Community colleges offer a wide range of programs, from career and technical education to transfer pathways to four-year universities, allowing students to pursue their academic and career goals in a supportive and inclusive environment. With flexible schedules, smaller class sizes, and dedicated faculty and staff, community colleges provide a personalized approach to education that helps students succeed.

“Missouri's community colleges hold the key to bridging the state's skilled worker shortage, whether it's a fresh high school graduate seeking to kickstart their engineering degree or a seasoned employee in need of short-term training on cutting-edge manufacturing equipment,” said MCCA President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Millner. “As we celebrate Community College Month, we encourage you to seize the countless opportunities available at your nearest community college."

Not only do community colleges offer high-quality education at an affordable cost, but they also provide opportunities for students to develop critical thinking, problem-solving and leadership skills that are in high demand in today’s workforce. One year at a community college is a fraction of the cost of one year at Missouri's public and private four-year schools.

  • Private four-year: $21,500
  • Public four-year: $9,500
  • Community college: $4,258

*Public college data from Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. Private college data from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System

Not only are community colleges the low-cost alternative but they can be zero-cost for those who apply for financial aid. Many students who enroll at a Missouri community college can have access to scholarship opportunities, including:

  • The Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant: This new state scholarship pays tuition and fees for students 25 and older who want to pursue high-demand occupations. Programs like nursing, welding and teaching are just a few of the dozens of fields of study that are Fast Track eligible. Fast Track will pay for short-term workforce training courses.

  • Pell Grants: These federal funds for the most under-resourced students will cover the tuition costs for most of the state’s community college programs. About 25% of Missouri’s community college students receive Pell Grants.

  • Access Missouri: Access Missouri is a version of the Pell Grant from the state of Missouri. It can be used to pay for books, housing, food and living expenses.

  • A+: If a high schooler goes to class, earns good grades, and participates in community service, the A+ scholarship will pay for them to complete an associate degree.

For more information on Missouri’s community colleges, visit