Support for higher education is the lever by which the government can move the entire economy.
 ~ Paul Romer, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University / Hoover Institution

Jefferson City, MO — The Missouri Department of Higher Education presented ideas for improving Missouri's economy to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education at its meeting Thursday in Wildwood. The stimulus package agreed upon by Congress would provide badly needed support for higher education.

Enrollment in higher education typically grows during recessions, when people are out of work, need re-training or are just aiming for more highly paid employment. The state stabilization funds in the proposed federal stimulus package could provide Missouri with needed flexibility to make college more affordable by maintaining state support for institutions of higher learning.

"The state stabilization funds would allow Missouri to have a balanced budget while protecting jobs, providing training and enhancing the state's capacity to attract new industry," says Paul Wagner, deputy commissioner of higher education. "An influx of money at this critical juncture won't just assist the faltering economy, it will help protect the foundation of higher education that the state needs to grow the workforce of the future."

The economic stimulus portion of the proposed federal legislation would increase the amounts of money available through the Pell grant and work study programs, enabling low income students to attend college. Proposed increases in funding for the National Science Foundation would assist Missouri educators to conduct research that may lead to new products and technologies. Economic stimulus funds available for capital projects would improve campuses statewide while creating construction jobs in the communities where the schools are located.

Other revenue streams available through the proposed economic stimulus bill — such as energy projects, teacher and health care worker training, workforce development, agricultural research and education extension — have natural applications to higher education, says Tim Gallimore, MDHE assistant commissioner for academic affairs.

"Missouri colleges and universities are poised to have an immediate, positive impact on the economy," Gallimore says. "Small ripples that start out in college labs and classrooms will create waves felt around the state and nation."

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