Jefferson City — The Missouri Department of Higher Education today announced that the Access Missouri scholarship program award amounts for this academic year will be 22 percent lower than last year.

Each year the agency determines award amounts by gauging the number of students who will receive the award and the total amount of money available.

Maximum award amounts this year will be $780 at public two-year institutions; $1,680 at public four-year institutions; and $3,590 at independent institutions. Students at higher income levels or who have other sources of aid may receive lower amounts.

"The number of eligible applicants for the 2009-2010 academic year has increased significantly over last year, but the amount of money available has not," says Commissioner of Higher Education Robert B. Stein.

To qualify for an Access Missouri scholarship, students must have Expected Family Contributions (EFCs) of $12,000 or less. Students with EFCs above $7,000 receive proportionally smaller awards. The EFC is calculated using information provided by students and parents on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, filed by April 1 prior to the academic year.

Last year the MDHE distributed more than $92 million to 42,244 students.