State universities launch tuition assistance programs

February 19, 2010 10:34:00 AM



JACKSON -- Some of Mississippi''s public universities have started tuition assistance programs aimed at keeping students in school despite growing education costs. 




Among the programs outlined in a report released this week by the state College Board is one at Mississippi State University that pays the base tuition costs not covered by a student''s financial aid. The Mississippi State Promise Program will assist eligible freshmen or community college transfers. 




MSU plans to raise private donations to fund the program and use part of the money that comes from tuition increases that go into effect this fall. 




"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 Mark Keenum said in a news release. 




At Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, tuition is waived for up to four semesters for some transfer students. 




Bucky Wesley, MUW''s vice president for students services, said the Tuition Guarantee Program allows Lowndes County residents transferring from East Mississippi Community College with an associate degree to continue their education at the Columbus-based university. 


"We believe it could open the door for more partnerships in the future," Wesley said. 


Such plans are being implemented as the state''s eight universities face a tough economy and state budget cuts. Last month, the state College Board voted to raise average tuition 6.8 percent beginning this fall. 


Other new programs include: 


- Mississippi Valley State University''s Gateway Leadership program, which pairs international students with local residents. Students can earn an extra $250 a semester for participating. 


- University of Southern Mississippi''s Jubilee Scholarship, which was established through a $5 million anonymous gift. Preference is given to women and minorities, but all eligible students must maintain a 2.25 grade point average. 


- University of Mississippi''s Ole Miss Opportunity scholarship, which guarantees financial aid support for low-income students.