The Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant application for the 2022-23 academic year is now open, with a few key adjustments making it possible for more Missourians to receive funding for postsecondary education and training to join the workforce.

Fast Track is a financial aid program for adults that the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development administers for those who are at least 25 years old or for adults who have not attended high school or a postsecondary institution in the past two years, have not earned a bachelor’s degree, and do not exceed income limits.

A notable change resulting from legislation that passed in 2022 is the expansion to include more training providers and registered apprentices. Qualified students attending a training provider or apprenticeship program approved under the Office of Workforce Development’s Eligible Training Provider System and enrolled in a Coordinating Board designated Fast Track program can receive financial aid through the program.

“Fast Track is a valuable program that continues to serve a key population,” said Leroy Wade, interim commissioner of higher education. “With the recent changes in the program, more Missouri adult learners will avoid or lessen student loan debt as they pursue continued education. The addition of apprenticeships and training providers will help grow Missouri’s workforce and strengthen the state’s economy.”

Also included under Senate Bill 672, sponsored by Sen. Lincoln Hough and signed by Gov. Mike Parson on July 1 are provisions that extend Fast Track through Aug. 28, 2029, and eliminates the possibility of the grant being converted into a loan if residency and work requirements were not met.

Although the revised program requires an individual be a Missouri resident for two years prior to receiving the grant for some individuals, active duty service members and military spouses are exempt from that requirement.

The legislation passed earlier this year with an added benefit for those participating in a U.S. Department of Labor-approved Registered Apprenticeship. It allows those individuals to receive aid for education-related costs, such as tools, books, and uniforms if they are eligible for Fast Track.

The Fast Track program has awarded nearly $3.3 million in aid since it began distributing funds in fall 2019. The average amount awarded in 2022 was $4,117, nearly $2,000 more per recipient than in the program’s first year. Allied health, computer science, business/accounting, and education were the top programs among grant recipients in 2022.

To access the 2022-23 application, visit journeytocollege.mo.gov and click on the State Financial Aid Portal. Applicants should also enroll at the college or university they plan to attend, and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the program year in which they’re applying.

To learn more about Fast Track and the eligibility requirements, visit mofasttrack.com.