Truman State University – a rural gem in the Midwest

by Grace

Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri may be a good fit for a bright kid who needs a financial safety and is attracted to a Midwestern rural location. Described as a  “public LAC”, it originally caught my eye because, as explained in the chart to the right,  it offers automatic merit aid.

Truman has forged a national reputation for offering an exceptionally high-quality undergraduate education at a competitive price.


Fast facts, with more information here:

  • Automatic scholarships based on GPA and ACT score combination, with one specifically for out-of-state students
  • Many other competitive scholarships, including several NMF awards up to full tuition
  • 74% admit rate with relatively high student test scores that are in the range of other more selective schools  –  The 2009 freshman class had an ACT midrange of 25 to 30 and  SAT CR of 570 – 710.  Compare this to the same statistics for two other well-regarded schools:  Boston Univ. (58% admitted) ACT 26 – 30, CR 580 – 670 CR; SUNY Binghamton (40% admitted) ACT 26 – 30, CR 580 – 670.
  • Ranked 31st by Kiplinger’s and first by Consumers Digest on their “best value” colleges lists.
  • Ranked #8 on USNWR Midwestern Regional Universities
  • Rolling admission with decisions by October 1 or earlier
  • 99% of first-year students live in college housing; 49% of all undergraduates live in college housing
  • NCAA Division II sports
  • 81% In-state students; 19% Out-of-state students


Some possible downsides

  • Rural – Located in the rural town of Kirksville, Mo., Truman State University is about a three hour drive southeast of Des Moines and four hours northwest of St. Louis.  85 miles from Columbia,195 miles from St. Louis.  In addition to a possible downside of Truman’s distance from airports,  Kirksville has been described as “very lackluster”.
  • Unusual service requirement of 60 hours per semester for scholarship recipients receiving more than $1250 per semester – may include work as a research assistant.

Here are Net Price Calculations for a hypothetical student who qualifies for automatic scholarships with top grades and test scores.  The three different levels of earned income scenarios are $50,000 (low), $80,000 (medium), and $150,000 (high).  These net prices would be even lower if this student were to be awarded one of the many competitive merit scholarships offered by Truman State.

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4 Comments to “Truman State University – a rural gem in the Midwest”

  1. It would usually be cheaper (but maybe not much) to go to a state college, but a school like Truman could be better for some students for any number of reasons.

    — Except for Binghamton, Geneseo, & Stony Brook, I suspect most of the other SUNYs do not have the caliber of students (and possibly instruction) that Truman does.

    — If a student receives one or more of the competitive scholarships in addition to the automatic ones shown on the chart, the costs could be much lower, possibly even a free ride.

    — Some states either do not have strong state schools and/or they are very selective. If the trend continues, even Binghamton will turn away close to 70% of applicants this year.

    — Some students may want to try a different environment from their home state, wanting to escape their high school classmates for a different experience.

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  2. Truman’s student statistics are relatively high, higher than those for most SUNY schools, from a quick check. Also higher than most other directional state schools around the country. I think that’s a good measure of academic caliber.

    From what I know, both Binghamton and Geneseo are in the same top league as Stony Brook and Buffalo, although Geneseo is significantly smaller and classified as a SUNY “college”. Geneseo is rural, and might be similar to Truman in that regard. I don’t think many NYC area students would find Truman’s location appealing at all, but certainly plenty of students from other parts of the country would and some from other parts of NY state would.

    I’d love to hear what your friends think of Truman.

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  3. But the mid-range distribution of Truman’s “SAT-equivalent” ACT scores still closely correlate to Binghamton’s SAT scores, so I would argue that the academic caliber of both student populations is equivalent. Not sure if I’m being clear, but the general population of Truman students have scores equivalent to those of the general population of Binghamton students.

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  4. Yes, they’re using NMF scholarships to attract top students, similar to what other schools like Alabama and Tulsa have done.

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