Drawing several different resources - some public sector and some from private foundations and endowments - 549 students received tuition assistance for the fall semester this year, 50 more than in 2010 and 246 more than in 2009.
This year 2,500 students applied, 107 more than in 2010 and almost triple the number of applications in 2009.
A scholarship is not automatic because the stipend carries academic and other financial requirements. Students must have exhausted other avenues in seeking tuition funds before the programs kick in with scholarships that averaged $640 this year.
In Monroe County winning applicants receive an extra $400 for books, which pushes that average to $847.
The requirements are easy to understand. At Itawamba Community College, which has the highest number of tuition guarantee students, these steps are required:
* Must be a resident of Chickasaw, Lee, Itawamba, Monroe or Pontotoc County (proof may be required).
* Graduate from high school or pass the GED (Lee County residents must be high school graduates) test before June 1.
* Take the American College Test (ACT) by June 30. Register at www.ACT.org
* Should apply for the Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG) at www.mississippi.edu by July 31.
* Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov by July 31.
* Apply for ICC institutional scholarships by July 31.
* Enroll at Itawamba Community College for the semester immediately after graduating from high school unless entering the military upon leaving high school as a full-time student (at least 12 academic hours). Monroe county applicants can apply anytime after graduation from high school or passing the GED. Applications are only accepted once a year.
* CGTP assistance will only be used after all applicable federal (FAFSA), state (MTAG) and scholarship funds have been applied/accepted.
The CGTP is available for four consecutive regular semesters, and a 2.0 GPA must be maintained working on at least 12 semester hours. There are second chances.
Everyone starts on level ground
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The Occupy Tupelo gathering at Sen. Wicker's Tupelo office is at 4 p.m. Wednesday and will last until participants get too cold. An incorrect day was cited in Bob Spencer's letter in Sunday's edition. We regret the error.