Missouri's methodology to distribute assistance from its largest need-based program (Gallagher) favors students attending private institutions, with students attending private institutions being eight times more likely to receive assistance. Also, as reported in a prior SAO report, DHE continued to rely on institutions to determine student eligibility without verification. As a result, DHE could not assure the accuracy and or reliability of eligibility determinations for award recipients.
The audit also indicates a college education is more expensive in Missouri than in surrounding states:
Missouri's state funded student financial assistance ranks low while tuition ranks high when compared to six surrounding states (Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Oklahoma). Most students meeting eligibility requirements for the state's largest need-based student financial assistance programs did not receive assistance due to funding shortfalls. In addition, the amount of individual student awards for the state's two largest student financial assistance programs (Gallagher and Bright Flight) has not been increased in 20 years.