Economic realities mean the end of a partnership that offered drivers’ education at Missouri Western State University.

In 1999, the St Joseph School District and Missouri Western became partners in offering drivers’ education during the summer. The St. Joseph School District covered the salaries of the instructors. Missouri Western provided classrooms, driving practice areas and administration of the program, including registration of students and supervision of instructors. A local dealership graciously provided cars for the hands-on portion of the drivers’ education courses. 

Initially, tuition was free, with a $25 charge beginning in 2002 to cover insurance expenses. Due to increasing expenses, including insurance and the leasing of cars from a local dealership, the cost of drivers’ education at Missouri Western increased to $75 by 2014.

For 2015, the school district is unable to provide funds for drivers’ education instructors due to state guidelines that will not allow districts to be reimbursed for courses that charge a fee. In addition, no local car dealer is currently able to provide cars for drivers’ education. Even if a leasing program could be secured, without the school district funds, the cost per student for drivers’ education would be about $350 if 100 students paid this fee. After careful consideration, the decision has been made to suspend drivers’ education courses at Missouri Western due to these economic realities.

“The University has explored every opportunity to continue offering drivers’ education courses, but unfortunately, it is no longer economically feasible,” said Dr. Gordon Mapley, dean of the Western Institute. “We know this is a loss to the community.”

Parents and students desiring drivers’ education should seek qualified private instructors or an approved regional drivers’ education school.

Missouri Western State University is a comprehensive regional university providing a blend of traditional liberal arts and professional degree programs. The university offers student-centered, high quality instruction that focuses on experience-based learning, community service, and state-of-the-art technology. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit