UMSL’s new Close the Gap Grant will assist low-income students in earning their degrees

Students walking past Recreation and Wellness Center

The UMSL Close the Gap Grant will assist undergraduate students with high financial need from across the state of Missouri or select Illinois counties in the metropolitan area graduate with significantly less debt. Students new to UMSL will be eligible to receive the grant beginning in the spring 2022 semester. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Nearly half of all University of Missouri–St. Louis undergraduate students each year are Pell Grant-eligible or have excessive financial need as defined by their expected family contribution.

This financial need often inhibits their ability to earn a college degree.

UMSL is working to ease that burden through the creation of a new full financial access grant program, the UMSL Close the Gap Grant, benefitting new, undergraduate students with high financial need from across the state of Missouri or select Illinois counties in the metropolitan area beginning in the spring 2022 semester. Under the program, UMSL will pay all remaining tuition costs above federal Pell Grants, subsidized loans and other aid.

“This effort reflects our continued commitment to making a University of Missouri–St. Louis education both affordable and accessible while lowering student debt upon graduation,” UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik said. “The message we want to send to students and families across our state is that a world-class education from UMSL is within reach.”

Not only will the program increase access to higher education in the region and throughout the state of Missouri, but it will ensure that students can complete their degrees with significantly less debt.

Initial grants will be given to new first-time freshmen and transfer students as well as new first-time adult students enrolled full-time with at least 12 credit hours. They are renewable each semester if students continue to meet all requirements, including maintaining full-time enrollment with an UMSL GPA of at least 2.5 while actively receiving Pell Grant aid.

The amount of each grant will vary depending on the amount of other aid that the student receives and the number of credit hours in which the student enrolls.

“There are many students from the St. Louis region and smaller communities across our state that don’t believe college is attainable for them because of the cost,” said Reggie Hill, associate vice chancellor for strategic enrollment. “We hope that with this program in place more students will feel emboldened to apply to college at UMSL, recognizing the opportunities that our university provides for personal growth and future financial success.”

U.S. News & World Report has ranked UMSL in the Top 100 on its list of “Top Performers on Social Mobility,” a reflection of the university’s success at graduating Pell Grant students. Times Higher Education also has ranked UMSL No. 6 in the United States and No. 52 in the world in “Best Universities for Reducing Inequalities.”


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