The Project Stay program at Missouri Southern State University has been approved for a grant by the United States Department of Education that will provide nearly $1.5 million for the program over the next five years.

The grant is in the amount of $294,701 for the first budget year – Sept. 1, 2020, through Aug. 31, 2021.

Project Stay works with qualified students to provide resources that will ease the transition through college and on to graduate education and professional life. It’s part of the federal TRIO programs established by the Higher Education Act created in 1965.

“We’ve been on the Missouri Southern campus for 20 years, so we’ve had four previous grant cycles,” said Dr. Debbie Fort, director of the program.

“The application process is very lengthy. You have to demonstrate a need (for funding), provide community information, letters of support from the university and community, and a lot of data. You have to have a plan of operation, an institutional commitment and establish how you will evaluate the effectiveness of your plan. There are bonus points for meeting the goals you’ve set for the grant. We always meet or exceed our goals. This time we received a perfect score.”

Project Stay serves 175 students at MSSU, offering financial literacy, scholarships, advising, tutoring, job-shadowing opportunities and counseling services, among other resources. All services are provided free of charge.

To qualify, students must meet one of the following criteria: Be a first-generation college student; meet an income guideline showing financial need; have a documented disability.

“We meet with every student at the beginning of the year to develop an individual goal for the year,” said Fort. “Our job is to help them meet that goal.”

For more information about the Project Stay program at Missouri Southern, visit www.mssu.edu/project-stay.