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Efforts are Underway to Give More Financial Aid to the State’s Neediest College Students

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 17 Mar 2014 07:21pm | comments

About 50% of state aid for college tuition in Mississippi currently  goes to families making over 70 thousand dollars a year.  MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports on efforts to level the playing field.

At Mississippi's two and four year colleges about 80 percent of state financial aid goes to Caucasian  families.  About 15 percent goes to African Americans. However, Jennifer Rogers, Director of Student Financial Aid with the state college board says the agency is asking lawmakers to change that policy to reflect current enrollment.

"We know that those numbers do not represent the demographics in the state of Mississippi. We would like for more families representative of our state to be able to access the state financial aid.

During this legislative session Rogers says her group has asked lawmakers for several legislative changes that would result in more need based state financial aid. While most of the changes have died in the process, House Universities and Colleges Chairman, Gregory Holloway of  Hazelhurst says they will eventually have to be addressed. 

"I do agree that education should be affordable for all kids regardless of what income level you come from. I believe that those are the ones who need the additional financial aid the most. And we need to do whatever we can to make sure that they get a fair chance at being educated just like any other student in the state of Mississippi."

"My experiences for my freshman year, I barely got all my costs covered."

That's 18 year old Jackson State University, freshman, Zerrick Hillard. He says even though he had an academic scholarship along with a Pell Grant, he still needed to take out a student loan to cover the cost of housing.

"Because Jackson State was my backup school and when my financial aid was transferring over from the other school it was late in the year and it was barely enough to cover everything."

Members of the state financial Aid Board say they will continue to push for more financial aid dollars for needy students.   Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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