Since the start of the new year, Governor Parson has been traveling around Missouri leading roundtable discussions promoting partnerships between higher education and workforce development groups. Parson is promoting the nearly 470 million in federal dollars Missouri received from the American Rescue Plan Act that was passed in March of last year. Last week Parson held a roundtable in Maryville, MO that was attended by officials from Northwest Missouri and Missouri Western state universities.
The 470 million is just a drop in the bucket compared to 40 billion dollars made available for colleges and universities through Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Included in the overall plan was 10 billion dollars to community college and more than 2.6 billion to Historically Black College and Universities. Both community colleges and four-year state universities throughout the country have been hit hard by the pandemic as fewer students have chosen not to enroll, re-enroll, or have joined the workforce.
Missouri Southern State University in Joplin reported sharp drops before the pandemic. Last fall, Southern said a decline in enrollment was over 13% from the fall of 2021. While Crowder College, whose main campus is located in Neosho and operates satellite campuses in Cassville, Joplin, Webb City, Nevada, and Jane Missouri, reported a 5% drop in enrollment this past fall versus fall 2021 enrollment.
Meanwhile, things don’t look better across the border in Kansas, where Pittsburg State continues to lose students. This past fall, the university reported a 6.1% decrease in enrollment with a count of just over 6,000 students.
Governor Parson said at that stop that he was not eager to accept federal funds that deepened the US’s deficit but that he had an obligation to ensure the money was invested wisely. This Thursday, the Governor will make an appearance at Missouri State in Springfield to be a part of a roundtable at 11 am, before traveling to Joplin to lead a roundtable at Missouri Southern at 1:15 pm.