Nonprofit online university expands to Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Gov. Jay Nixon's push to increase college completion rates is bringing to Missouri a nonprofit online university started by 19 other governors in the western U.S.

Nixon announced the partnership between Missouri and Western Governors University in his Jan. 28 State of the State address. Indiana, Texas and Washington state have established similar alliances with the Salt Lake City-based virtual school. Tennessee's governor announced his plans for a WGU campus the same night as Nixon.

The school charges about $6,000 for annual tuition, rates far cheaper than those of its for-profit competitors. The average student is 37, and two-thirds of its students work full-time.

Students advance through classes at their own pace, rather than rely on academic semesters of fixed length. The process is known as competency-based education.