Community college tuition assistance for all recent high school graduates

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 13, 2014

By Dr. Scott Alsobrooks

Guest Columnist 

Let’s face it, paying for college is very difficult for some. Fortunately, very low income students have federal financial aid to assist with tuition, fees, and other costs. Academically, artistically and athletically endowed students often benefit from institutional and foundation scholarships. Most often, students from affluent households receive money from parents to fund college. Unfortunately, the average performing students from lower middle income families have the most difficult time with funding a college education.

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Perhaps a bit of good fortune is on the horizon for lower middle income students and others that need help. The Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill (HB 424) to help students pay for community college. If passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, the funding will only be available to those that do not qualify for other types of financial aid.

The current terms of the bill implicate that the student must be younger than 21 and has to enroll in a Mississippi public community college within one year of high school graduation. The student would have to enroll in 15 credit hours and maintain a 2.5 grade point average. The funding will cover four semesters of community college studies.

If this bill makes it through the approval process, Mississippi will have made a sound investment. Georgetown University reports that a student earning an Associate’s Degree can expect to earn $400,000 more than someone with only a high school diploma can expect to earn during their lifetime. At Pearl River Community College, students earning an Associate’s in Applied Science Degree receive an annual salary of $34,014. Currently, according to United States Census Facts, the per capita income of a Mississippian is $20,670. That difference of approximately $14,000 is sizable and can certainly make a difference in the quality of life for Mississippians