Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552




CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 12, 2002 - Nearly 200 Southeast Missouri State University students received word last week that they have qualified for a Bridge to Success Award for the 2002-2003 academic year.

The new, need-based grant to help cover unmet costs associated with enrollment at Southeast, was created recently by the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents. The Bridge to Success program was initiated after a comprehensive study of student financial aid and scholarships determined that nearly 15 percent of full-time freshmen and sophomores who were Missouri residents enrolled at Southeast in Fall 2001 had unmet financial need totaling more than $165,000.

Donald L. Dickerson, president of the University's Board of Regents, said, "The Regents understand that the recent necessary increases in incidental fees for next year may work a hardship on low-income students. For this reason, the Board felt it was important to inaugurate the need-based Bridge to Success program immediately, so that these students still have access to higher education opportunities. We feel the program will serve an important need."

Frances Jenkins, a sophomore from Oak Ridge, Mo., welcomed the news of her Bridge to Success Award.

"It's wonderful," she said of the program. "This is the first financial aid that I didn't have to apply for and that does not need to be repaid."

Jenkins, who is the mother of a 12-year-old son and who works three jobs to help finance her education, said she has had to balance her desire for a college education with the fear of growing family indebtedness. She said she worries about financing her son's future college education, while, at the same time, thinking about how she will pay off the debt on her own schooling.

"It's a lot to worry about," the dietetics major said, adding that each year she is faced with questions about the amount of college financial aid she should seek.

"This is a great opportunity," she said of the assistance, adding that when she graduates, she hopes to work in food services management in a correctional system.

Misty Lukefahr, a student from Perryville, Mo., also is a recipient of a Bridge to Success Award.

"I was excited and very surprised," she said of her award.

Lukefahr says receiving the Bridge to Success Award takes some of the strain off of her and her husband, who are raising their two-year-old son and, and at that same time, trying to finance a college education. Loans and Pell grants have helped her finance her education in the past.

Lukefahr is considering pursuing a degree in nursing in the hopes of working in pediatrics in the future.

Dr. Pauline Fox, vice president for administration and enrollment management, says that Southeast's commitment to making higher education accessible is at the heart of the Bridge to Success program.

"As far as we have been able to determine, Southeast Missouri State University is the only public university in Missouri with a program to assist students with unmet financial need," Fox said.

Students receiving Bridge to Success awards were given varying award amounts ranging from $150 to $1,000 a year. The grants require no repayment. Each student's award was determined by subtracting the Expected Family Contribution calculated on the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) from an average cost of attendance that includes fees, textbook rental and a room and board allowance. Financial aid that students already are receiving from the University and outside agencies along with an average work and loan award also was considered in determining their eligibility.

Current and incoming undergraduate students admitted by April 1 were automatically considered for this need-based award through the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Student Financial Services reviewed the eligibility of each full-time, Missouri resident, with a 2.0 grade point average (if a returning student) to determine those students who have eligibility based on financial need.

Students who received the Bridge to Success Award this year are eligible for the award again next year provided they meet specified academic and financial need requirements.

The Southeast Missouri University Foundation is establishing an endowment to finance the award program and to provide the resources to help students bridge the financial gap. Alan Zacharias, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, says the Foundation hopes to raise $2 million over the next five years. The interest on this principal will be used to fund the Bridge to Success program. The University is funding the program in its first year.

Zacharias says the Foundation will match all contributions to the program at $1 for each $2 donated. Alumni will be asked at Homecoming to direct their class gifts to the endowment fund, he said. The Foundation hopes to raise $300,000 in the coming year and, the match from the Foundation will bring the total to $450,000 in the first year of the program. He says a $2 million endowment with a five percent spending rate will provide $100,000 annually for Bridge to Success awards.

Those wishing to make a contribution to the Bridge to Success endowment may call the Southeast Missouri University Foundation at (573) 651-2252.


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