Over 50% of single parent families in Mississippi live below the poverty level. The State is investing in programs to reduce the drop out rates of school students and to encourage more students to enter the teaching profession. Single parent students have access to financial aid to encourage them to obtain a college education and a degree can offer the opportunity to lift the family out of the poverty trap.
The State of Mississippi has launched the ‘Gear Up’ program which encourages school children to make the most of education, and the program also offers a number of college scholarships. The program is funded by the US Department of Education, and single parent students who go on to obtain a degree set a fine example to their own children in the value of education.
Financial aid is available through state scholarships and grants, and there are scholarships available which are aimed at those students wishing to pursue a public service career in nursing, teaching or social work.
To apply for state grants and some scholarships the student must first submit the FAFSA application which is the federal application for student funding. This gives those students with the greatest financial need the opportunity to obtain the federal Pell grant which is non repayable. The Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant is available to students who do not qualify for the full federal Pell grant.
Prospective students should search the Mississippi gov. site to obtain details of the full range of grants available and liaise directly with the college or university they plan to enrol in. Assistance and financial advice will be given by the financial aid officers at the colleges.
Many colleges and universities offer their own grants and scholarships. As an example the University of Mississippi administers a number of grants through its ‘Ole Miss Opportunity Program’.
If students do consider teaching as an option when they graduate they can reduce the amount of any borrowing they may need through federal student loans, by applying for the William Winter Teacher Scholarship Loan which offers up to $4000 for 2 years. There is an obligation to teach for up to 2 years as a full time contracted licensed classroom teacher in a Mississippi public school in order to receive the funding.
In addition the Mississippi loan repayment program gives up to $3000 per annum for a maximum of 4 years to graduate students who obtain an ‘Alternate Route Teaching Licence’ and teach in Mississippi public schools which are in critical shortage areas or who teach in critical subject areas.
Although Mississippi single parent students face economic hardship there is financial aid available to encourage their return to education. It is important to research all possible sources of financial assistance which will reduce the reliance on student loans. If loans are necessary as well then the federal Stafford loan, which is available through the FAFSA, should cover the shortfall in necessary costs.