By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
Monroe County residents must now meet certain academic benchmarks to participate in the county’s higher-education tuition guarantee program.
The board of directors for the Gilmore Foundation, which funds the program, voted on Wednesday to require students to have at least a 2.5 high school grade-point-average in order to participate. Many students also will be required to reach a minimum ACT score, depending on their field of study.
Previously there were no academic requirements.
The program funds four semesters of community college tuition beyond what is paid for by scholarships and grants. Monroe County was the first in Northeast Mississippi to add the program in 2008, and 14 other counties have since created their own.
Gilmore Foundation Executive Director Danny Spreitler said the change is being made to ensure students are better prepared for success in college. Fewer than 25 percent of the students who have participated in the county’s program have graduated from their community college, Spreitler said, and 46 percent have required remedial courses.
The foundation will now require clinical majors, such as those in the nursing program, to score an 18 on the ACT, and most others to score at least a 16. Career technical education majors will not have a minimum ACT score.
The board also voted to restrict the program to alumni of one of the four school districts in Monroe County or GED recipients who have lived in the county for at least four years.
Monroe County is the only one in Northeast Mississippi that also funds two semesters of tuition at a Mississippi public university for community college gradates in the program. That portion is unchanged.
Monroe’s change does not affect tuition guarantee programs in other counties.