College aid requests increase 19 percent in Miss.

Published 6:12 pm Tuesday, August 19, 2008

U.S. Department of Education records show the number of Mississippians seeking help paying for college has increased by more than 19 percent when compared to the first six months of last year.

During the first six months of the year, 16 percent more students nationally completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which opens the door to need-based assistance such as Pell Grants and federally subsidized student loans.

As students return to college this month, families are feeling financial pressure from several sources. The rising cost of oil has pushed up gas prices and contributed to spikes in food prices. Expenses directly related to college also have increased.

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Mary Jane Covington, director of student financial aid for the state College Board, says parents and students are going to be looking for more resources. Covington estimates about 80 percent of students attending the state’s public universities complete the FAFSA application.