Students in Tishomingo County get tuition guarantee

BOONEVILLE – Students in Tishomingo County will have an easier time continuing their education after high school.
Graduates of Belmont and Tishomingo County High Schools will attend Northeast Community College tuition-free, county and school leaders announced Friday at a press conference at NMCC.
Their tuition will be paid for by a partnership between the Tishomingo County Board of Supervisors, the Northeast Mississippi Planning amp& Development District and the CREATE Foundation.
“It means the whole world,” said Tishomingo County High senior Ethan Maness. “I think everyone needs and deserves a good education. I think this helps a lot, especially for people who couldn’t afford it.”
The Tishomingo County program is the region’s latest tuition guarantee agreement, the first coming in 2008 and involving Itawamba Community College and students in Lee County.
Now students in 16 counties served by four community colleges – Northeast, Itawamba, East Mississippi and Northwest Mississippi – have tuition assistance programs.
And that number will grow.
Next week, Northeast will announce tuition assistance agreements with Tippah County, and the school’s president, Johnny Allen, said an agreement with Alcorn County also could be announced soon.
That would put tuition assistance programs in place for all five counties served by Northeast. Union County and city of Corinth had similar programs for the school in place at the beginning of this academic year, and Prentiss County announced a program during the fall.
“It makes it easier for us to say, ‘Give higher education a try,” Allen said. “You don’t have to invest your money; invest your time.”
Tishomingo County also will extend the program to county residents who earn their GED, an extra option not available in most counties.
“They branched our farther than some of the others, and I appreciate that,” Allen said. “It is the adult student who is returning to college who can have the most difficulty.”
The program is available for four consecutive semesters beginning the fall semester of the student’s freshman year. To continue to receive tuition assistance, students must maintain a C average and remain full-time students.
“This should be students’ extra motivation to do something they wouldn’t have had the hope of doing because of money,” said Tishomingo County Superintendent Malcolm Kuykendall.
The Tishomingo County Board of Supervisors will dedicate half a mil to the project. That, plus matching money, will make the annual contribution about $125,000 to $140,000 said Supervisor Chairman James McDowell. The Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District will contribute another $25,000.
“We realize that technology is changing very fast, and economic development depends on young people,” McDowell said. “We’re excited as a county to make this commitment to our graduating seniors.
“The world is changing and if we don’t prepare for it today, we won’t be ready for it tomorrow.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or at chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

To qualify for the program, students in Tishomingo County must:
* Graduate from high school by the end of May
* Take the American College Test before the end of June
* Apply for the Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant by the end of July
* Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid by the end of July
* Enroll in the community college for the fall semester following high school graduation as a full-time student

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal