New Scholarships Offer Free Tuition to Pell-Eligible Students, In-State Tuition to Non-Residents


Roo Advantage Scholarship recipient Madison Atkins is set to receive the rest of her college tuition for free. (Ian Lack/Roo News)

Ian Lack, Writer

“If I’m being honest, I started crying telling them. I was so excited, but I was also really confused. How did I get a scholarship that basically covers everything?” 

  These were junior Madison Atkins’s thoughts as she told her family she received the Roo Advantage Scholarship, which provides eligible students a free year of college. 

  To qualify for the Roo Advantage scholarship, students must be Pell-eligible and a Kansas or Missouri resident. Students are also required to have an associate’s degree, which Atkins had received at a community college prior to transferring to UMKC this fall.

  “It’s so important because having debt at such an early age in your 20s when you’re already trying to get your life started and get your career can be such a burden,” Atkins said. “I can’t even imagine how many loans I would’ve had to take out.” 

  Atkins said she feels even more motivated to get her master’s degree with the freedom from debt from gaining her bachelor’s, saying she may begin her first year of teaching while studying to receive her master’s.

  Another scholarship geared toward alleviating the strains of student debt, the Roo Nation Award, becomes available in the fall of 2023. It allows out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition rates and can also renew annually. To qualify, students must be U.S. citizens with a previous GPA of at least 3.0. Medical, pharmacy, dentistry and law students are not eligible.

  “With these scholarships, especially the Roo Advantage, students working another job can have that money go [to] other places, whether that’s groceries or housing or gas,” Riley Newton, a strategic communications specialist for UMKC, said. “Just to take this one burden off of a student’s or a family’s shoulders, I think that’ll make all the difference.”

  The average cost of college tuition nationally has risen over 180% in the last 40 years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Students with a bachelor’s degree now average over $32,000 in student loan debt after graduating as of 2022.

  “We are committed to making higher education affordable to the Kansas City community, all of Missouri and Kansas and beyond,” UMKC Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jenny Lundgren said in a news release. 

  Students are still able to receive the Roo Advantage scholarship this fall. Newton said she encourages students to reach out to their academic advisors and the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office to learn about these awards. 

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