February 2010
Hundreds to receive financial aid guidance on ‘College Goal Sunday’
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GEAR UP Mississippi (MS) is preparing for a record turnout this year for “College Goal Sunday,” an annual statewide event that helps college-bound students and their families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

College Goal Sunday 2010 in Mississippi will be held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, February 27 at 42 locations across the state. The event includes a two-hour information session on the FAFSA and there will be a drawing for a $500 college scholarship at each site.

“If someone wants to go to college but they aren’t sure how they will pay for it, College Goal Sunday is an excellent resource for free advice,” said Lashanda Colbert, state coordinator of the event.

Sponsored by GEAR UP MS, College Goal Sunday provides on-site help from financial aid experts with a focus on FAFSA. Students must fill out the FAFSA to qualify for federal financial aid, such as grants and loans. Many scholarship donors also require students file a FAFSA, and many universities use the form to make decisions about institutional grant and scholarship awards.

More than 300 volunteers helped coordinate College Goal Sunday 2009, which served about 600 families. Aside from GEAR UP MS, sponsors for this year’s event include the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, USA Funds, Lumina Foundation for Education, Educational Service Foundation and the YMCA.

To view a complete list of College Goal Sunday sites visit www.mscollegegoalsunday.org.

WHAT TO BRING

Students and parents should try to bring the following information with them to College Goal Sunday:

  • FAFSA PIN
  • Completed IRS 1040 tax returns
  • W-2 statements
  • Current bank statements
  • Untaxed income records
  • Driver’s license
  • Registration card (if not a U.S. citizen)

Tuition guarantee offered to transfers at MUW
Strengthening the relationship between two-year and four-year institutions was the focus of a new Tuition Guarantee Program implemented by the Mississippi University for Women.

But in the process, the university also made it more affordable for Lowndes County residents transferring from East Mississippi Community College with an associate degree to continue their education.

The new initiative allows qualified students to attend MUW tuition-free for up to four semesters.

“Right now, this is a small, affordable program that offers more access to higher education,” said Dr. Bucky Wesley, MUW’s vice president for student services. “We believe it could open the door for more partnerships in the future.”

In order to qualify for the program with EMCC, a student must be a Lowndes County resident and have met the following criteria;

  • Earned an associate degree;
  • Maintained a 2.5 GPA on transfer work;
  • Applied all other federal, state and other scholarships to tuition first; and
  • Met MUW admissions requirements.

The guarantee only covers tuition costs.

For more information, contact the MUW Office of Admissions at (877) 462-8439 or visit www.muw.edu.


UMMC online offerings ease burden
Work is the only obstacle getting in the way of earning a higher degree for some nontraditional students who can’t afford to lose a paycheck or create a gap in their resume.

But at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, those interested in some health-related professions can further their education without ever leaving the workplace.

Online baccalaureate programs in Health Informatics and Information Management (HIIM), Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS), and Health Sciences are now offered at the medical center.  A transitional program is also offered allowing practicing physical therapists (PTs) with a bachelor’s degree in PT or the Master of Physical Therapy to upgrade their degrees to the current standard Doctor of Physical Therapy.  This summer, UMMC will begin offering the Master of Health Sciences as well.  

Admitted students must enter with the appropriate licensure, registry or certification relevant to the degree program, said Dr. Ben Mitchell, dean of the School of Health Related Professions.

“The baccalaureate programs attract many students from the community college system who are already working in their chosen field but want to get a higher degree for career advancement purposes,” Dr. Mitchell said.

HIIM professionals manage and develop electronic health records systems while CLS graduates work in laboratories analyzing patient samples. Health Sciences is a more general program that allows professionals from across the allied health care spectrum to upgrade their credentials from an associate’s degree to the bachelor of science.

Students in the doctoral and master’s programs often are looking to move into a teaching capacity or to a higher level administrative position, he added.

By offering the program online, students avoid “loss of income” issues that may otherwise hinder them from applying, Dr. Mitchell said. Clinical and capstone work can often be completed on the job.

In the future, the school is considering adding online programs geared toward baccalaureate degree completion in dental hygiene and radiologic sciences.

“The tuition costs, and other incurred expenses, are still there, but the burden of taking all that on with no revenue coming in is no longer an issue,” Dr. Mitchell said. “For many students, especially nontraditional students, that is a really big deal.


New program provides stipend: MVSU ‘Gateway’ participants learn about culture
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Cash-strapped students can earn an extra $250 a semester and learn about other cultures through a new program offered by Mississippi Valley State University ’s Office of International Program.

The Gateway Leadership Program pairs international students with residents in an effort to create global citizens and cut down on college expenses.

Participants are required to meet as a large group at least twice a month and pairs must join in extracurricular activities together throughout the year.

“Many of our American students haven’t been more than 200 miles from home, so this is a good way to introduce them to the world and help them pay for college,” said Dr. Kathie Stromile Golden, director of international programs and professor of political science.

Fifty students – 25 American and 25 international – are participating in the program this year. This is the first time this kind of program has been offered to students at MVSU, Dr. Golden said.

Extracurricular activities include training sessions to hone job-related skills such as resume writing, seminars on breaking down cultural barriers, and field trips, like recent visits to the Smith-Robertson and International Muslim Museums in Jackson, Miss., the Belz Asian and Judaic Art and Civil Rights museums in Memphis, Tenn., and the World of Pharaohs-Egyptian Exhibit in Little Rock, Ark.

Participant students must apply to be a part of the program. The stipend can be applied to any expense including tuition, textbooks, housing or other living expenses.

For more information on Gateway Leadership Program call (662) 254-3092 or e-mail Sylvia Gray at sbgray@mvsu.edu.


MSU ‘promises’ to assist students in need
Resident students in need of a scholarship to make up the difference between sticker-price tuition and financial aid received may be able to find a boost at Mississippi State University.

The Mississippi State Promise program is designed to help deserving entering freshmen or community college transfers cover the cost of base tuition after all other grants, scholarships and waivers have been applied.

The university expects private donations to cover some of the cost of the program. Money raised by tuition increases authorized by the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning in January will also likely pay for part of the program.

“Through this program, we’re making a promise to Mississippi students who need our help: We’re going to make up the difference,” MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum said.

One of the Board’s priorities is to substantially increase the number of baccalaureate-degreed individuals in Mississippi. Ensuring higher education is accessible through programs like Mississippi State Promise is an important part of fulfilling that goal, Dr. Keenum added

In order to be eligible for the program, the student must demonstrate significant financial need and his or her total family income must not exceed $30,000.

Eligible students must also be:

  • Admitted into a first baccalaureate degree program;
  • Enrolled full time; and
  • A Mississippi resident.

Students must complete the MSU admission and scholarship process by the April 1 priority date, as well as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and all applicable state student aid applications. The FAFSA must be available to MSU by the priority date.

Entering freshmen must have a 3.0 high school grade point average on a 4.0 scale and entering community college transfer students must have a 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information on eligibility and application procedures visit sfa.msstate.edu.


USDA partners with ASU: Scholars to receive full ride, job offer
What is better than a full ride, including housing fees, and a guaranteed job after college? Not much in a time of economic uncertainty.

Through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Alcorn State University offers students interested in a career in agriculture or food sciences the opportunity to get a degree for free.

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program – established as a partnership between the 18 historically black land-grant institutions and the federal department – is open to high school seniors, as well as first- and second-year college students, including community and junior college transfers.

“Students that are selected for the scholarship are paired with an USDA agency,” said Clifton Peters, ASU’s USDA/1890 Agricultural Liaison Officer.

“That agency becomes the student’s employer, taking care of all tuition and fees, providing a computer, printer and supplies and summer employment,” Peters added. “These students are also guaranteed a permanent position after college.”

Applications for the program are due February 1 each year. Peters said ASU is in the process of evaluating applications now and will recommend the top 10 applicants to the USDA shortly.

Eligible high school seniors must have maintained a 3.0 grade point average and earned a 21 or higher on the ACT. First- and second-year college students are evaluated based on their college coursework.

Students also must be interested in earning a bachelor’s degree in an agriculture, food, natural resource sciences or other related disciplines, which includes (but is not limited to) natural resources management, veterinarian science, environmental science, nutrition and other areas.

Other participating universities include Alabama A&M University, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University, Kentucky State University, Lincoln University, Longston University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, North Caroline A&T University, Prairie View A&M University, South Carolina State University, Southern University, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, Virginia State University and West Virginia State University.

For more information: the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program at Alcorn State University. For more information: the national program.


Low-income students find support at UM
Low-income Mississippi students will be guaranteed financial aid support for tuition, housing and meals through a new scholarship program at the University of Mississippi.

The Ole Miss Opportunity scholarship initiative is aimed at supporting the system goal to increase baccalaureate degree production and ensure access for Mississippians with the greatest need despite projected budget shortfalls.

“During these tough economic times, it is more important than ever to focus on access and affordability," UM Chancellor Dan Jones said. “While we realize that increases in tuition may create hardships, we don't want to decrease access to higher education for our neediest students.”

Ole Miss Opportunity was developed in part by identifying successful components of similar programs and then tailoring the program to fit the specific needs of UM and Mississippi students.

”The university has extensively studied need-based financial aid programs at other universities and believes Ole Miss Opportunity reflects the best practices identified in some of the most successful programs across the country,” said Laura Diven-Brown, UM director of financial aid.

The scholarship program will provide a combination of gift aid (federal, state, institutional, and private scholarships and grants), thereby guaranteeing that eligible Mississippi resident students receive financial aid support to cover the average cost of tuition, residence hall housing and an allowance for meals.

Students have opportunities to cover the remaining cost of books, transportation and personal expenses through the federal work-study program, loans or personal resources.

For more information: Ole Miss Opportunity and other financial aid options at UM.

CRITERIA FOR ELIGIBILITY

Students must meet the following to be eligible for the Ole Miss Opportunity program:

  • Mississippi resident
  • U.S. citizen
  • New first-year student beginning in Summer or Fall 2010
  • Degree-seeking and enrolled full-time at UM
  • Family Adjusted Gross Income (as defined on a 2009 federal tax return) at or below $30,000
  • Confirmation that the student will qualify for a federal Pell Grant
  • High school GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Completed FAFSA by March 15

DSU fund helps students in a pinch
Students faced with unexpected emergencies can find some assistance through a special fund at Delta State University.

The Perry Emergency Fund was established in 2002 through a $100,000 gift from Cleveland residents Billy and Mary Perry. The fund is designed to help ease a student’s burden when catastrophic and other unforeseen hardships arise.

“Sometimes things just come up, like car repairs, losing a home to fire, or having medical concerns. That’s just part of life,” said Ann Margaret Mullins, director of student financial aid at DSU. “We want to be there for our students to help them through these situations.”

Students requesting the emergency money must submit an application to the Office of Student Financial Assistance. The maximum amount awarded is $500 a semester.

Mullins said between 10 and 20 students usually apply for Perry Emergency Funds each semester. Students who receive the money are not required to reimburse the university.

“This program helps the university assists students in handling life events so that they can stay in school and earn a degree,” Mullins said.

For more information: the Perry Emergency Fund and other financial aid programs at Delta State.


Foundation awards help JSU students
After paying the bills for tuition and housing, textbook costs can drive some students away from the classroom.

But book stipends offered through the Jackson State University Development Foundation help some stay in school with all the material they need.

Need-based textbook awards offered though the foundation vary from $250 to $1,000.

“A lot of these young people come to us with a thirst for knowledge but they can’t afford the books to prepare for class,” said Linda J. Daniels, director of development. “Depending on the major, textbooks can be extremely expensive. On top of everything else, it just gets to be too much.”

Students spent an average of about $900 a year on textbooks and supplies, according to a report issued by the College Board in 2005-06. A new policy that would help cut down on the cost of textbooks is under consideration now by the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning.

The JSU Development Foundation also oversees book awards established by individuals, alumni associations or other organizations. Sometimes these awards are need-based, Daniels said, and other times, award recipients must meet certain grade point average requirements. The programs are mostly geared toward undergraduate students.

Recipients are generally notified several weeks before the next semester in order to help them better plan.

“This is a very popular program,” Daniels said. “The number of applicants always outweighs the number of awards we are able to give.”

For more information: the JSU Development Foundation.


USM fund bridges tuition gap
A new scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi is helping some first-year students stay enrolled beyond the first semester.

The Jubilee Scholarship, established by President Martha Saunders through a $5 million anonymous gift, is offered to students who may not be able to continue their education without special financial assistance.

The amount awarded varies based on the needs of the student after all other scholarships, grants and other forms of assistance have been applied.

“In keeping with our commitment to help our students realize their potential, this program was established to provide assistance to academically successful students,” said Dr. Kristi Motter, associate vice president for enrollment at Southern Miss. 

Preference will be given to women and minorities, but all eligible students must have earned at least 12 hours credit and maintained a 2.25 grade point average. Residents must have completed the FAFSA and state aid forms. Non-residents must have completed the FAFSA.

Students also must complete a 250-word essay that addresses short- and long-term goals, plans to ensure success in college and plans to manage college expenses if the Jubilee scholarship is not received.

The scholarship, established in fall 2009, is renewable in future semesters provided the student makes satisfactory academic progress.

“The Jubilee Scholarship is also aimed at keeping our retention rates up,” said Dr. Joe Paul, vice president for student affairs at USM. “If a student decides to enroll at Southern Miss, we want them to leave in an appropriate amount of time with a degree.”

Dr. Motter agreed.

“Some students really struggle to pay the bills,” she said. “We want to ease that burden so that they can concentrate on what is really important – getting a quality education.”

For more information on the Jubilee Scholarship, or to apply for the scholarship online, visit www.usm.edu/jubilee.