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MU Offers Free Tuition at MU High School for Employees Earning Diplomas

MBS Direct to Assist with Cost of Textbooks for Students

July 17th, 2014

Story Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Today, MU officials announced that university employees wanting to earn their high school diplomas may register for free with MU High School, the University’s online high school that offers more than 180 courses for high school credit. Tuition will be paid for through an extension of the existing tuition assistance benefit program and with funds from the College of Education and their Mizzou K-12 Online program. Additionally, a local company, MBS Direct, will assist students with the cost of their textbooks.

“The College of Education is excited to pilot this innovative program to help Mizzou employees earn their high school diplomas at no cost to those employees,” said Daniel L. Clay, dean of the College of Education. “Offering MU employees the opportunity to earn their high school diplomas from an accredited and well-respected entity like MU High School just makes sense. It is good for the employees and the university.”

This new tuition assistance program is a two-year pilot project. At the close of the project, completion rates will be analyzed to determine if this benefit should be extended to employees at the other three campuses of the University of Missouri System. The pilot program is open to employees at MU, the UM System, MU Health Care and MU Extension.

“This innovative program provides a wonderful opportunity for MU staff to complete their high school diplomas in the safe and convenient MU community,” said Zac March, director of Mizzou K-12 Online School. “The ‘last mile’ of finishing a high school diploma can seem like a far-off dream for some, but the staff and teachers at MU High School are here to support and encourage staff who register for the program.”

Kiki Gross, a lead custodian for MU Residential Life, will be one of the first individuals to enroll. Gross, who dropped out of high school when she was 15-years-old, has worked as a certified nurse’s assistant and a hospice worker and wants to continue her education in an effort to find other ways to help those in need.

“I’m ready,” Gross said. “I know there might be bumps in the road, but I’ll step over them and keep going. This is a way to change my life and to help others. I don’t want to stop with just my high school diploma; I want to find ways to help others, and if I don’t take this opportunity, nothing will change.”

According to Karen Touzeau, associate vice chancellor for Human Resource Services, the estimated investment in this staff development opportunity is minimal compared to the potential benefit from personal enrichment, employee engagement, and retention.  Touzeau says the pilot project will allow a strong, existing program of the UM System to be leveraged for the benefit of its employees and has the added benefit of continuing a relationship with a local company with strong ties to education, Touzeau said.

“MBS Direct’s foundation was built by providing cost-effective course materials and dedicated service to students at many different stages of their educational journeys,” said Bill Dampier, president and chief operating officer of MBS Direct. “That’s why we are so pleased to partner with Mizzou K-12 Online as they launch this new program for the staff at MU. We feel that no obstacle or challenge exists that cannot be overcome with the support of the right team.”