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Mississippi Legislature Punishes Students for Remaining In State

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At the end of last month, the Mississippi legislature passed a law that would no longer allow Mississippians attending in-state colleges to “stack” state granted financial aid, and this action could lead to unconsidered problems while alleviating little stress on the annual state budget.

High school seniors in Mississippi are eligible to apply for various financial aid programs, including the Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant, the Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant, Higher Education Legislation Plan for Needy Students, the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers & Firemen Scholarship and the Nissan Scholarship.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the cost of attending a public institution in the United States has risen 33 percent between the 2004-5 academic year and the 2014-15 academic year. Before May 30, students were allowed to apply to as many state scholarships as they were eligible to help ease the burden of attending a four year university, but for lawmakers this put too much strain on the state budget.

In 2015 alone, Ballotpedia estimated that the state of Mississippi spent $20.4 billion, and as of 2014 the state had amassed $54.7 billion in debt. In the last financial year it was estimated that $37.6 million was spent through state grants to help students with the burden of paying for college. $37.6 is a mere ~0.07% of $54.7 billion, so it is questionable as to how much of a strain financial aid puts on the state budget as a whole.

The glaring issue that arises when students are stripped of financial aid is that there may be many students who now have to shift to more severe student loans rather than scholarships for attending college, or even deter them from going to college entirely.

The more insidious effect of this law is its encouragement of students to look out of state for a higher education. As many MSMS students are aware, the siren’s song of out of state schools can be very alluring. Out of state schools offer new experiences, diversity and new locations that in-state schools can not bring to the table, but one key aspect keeps over sixty percent of MSMS alumni attending in state colleges: money.

Now that financial aid has been significantly cut for students who remain in state, it would not surprise me if more students decide that they would rather attend an out of state school rather than an in state school if they will end up in debt either way. This will could have a crippling effect on the future of Mississippi, for if all of our best and brightest students begin a mass exodus out of the state no one will be left to help bring industry to Mississippi.

I recognize that I am not a financial specialist. I am merely a student with one foot out of high school and the other into college, but when I look around me I see other students just like me who are scrambling for every penny they can get their hands on to help them pay for a college education. I highly encourage Mississippi legislation to do a little bit more number crunching and think about how taking money from talented students will affect the state in the long run.

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2 Responses to “Mississippi Legislature Punishes Students for Remaining In State”

  1. Angelica Walters on April 19th, 2017 9:56 pm

    It is outrageous that this, over all the other options, would be the choice to alleviate debt. When students and children are this states, and countries future, you would rather spend millions of dollars bombing countries than educating your own citizens. The millennials aren’t lazy, the state and government is just making too hard to get a job and education. You have to have college to have a job, but you have to be saving for college your whole life… with no job. You have to have experience to get a job, but need a job for experience, and on top of everything, you can’t even apply for your WELL DESERVED financial aid and have it stacked. Millions of students will now be left with no options for higher education. You have no vocational programs to train craftsmen, and this state will have no skilled, educated workers in the upcoming years. It’s too expensive to get a degree and be able to find a job to pay it off. This is how you get “entitled children” in your workforce that you label a millennial because the only students that can afford college has it handed to them on a silver platter by their rich parents. That’s how you become entitled. I could not even qualify for work study because my parents made too much money, however the state never considered that my parents would help pay for my college. I couldn’t get a job because all the locals and the students that get apartments get them first, and in two years I have racked up a debt of $36,000. I could not make that much money with a part time job and working full time if I wanted to. Education is one of the least affordable, and most needed resources and Mississippi is starving their upcoming adults of it. There will be no educated or certified workforce to chose from, and it is the fault of the government for valueing war and other countries, than its own citizens. You can’t help others without first helping yourself. America is not great again. We are in shambles and need to work on ourselves and our education system before anything else. We can’t be the nation that protects others if 80% of our citizens can’t read cursive to read The Declaration of Independence or have ever read it before. We can’t lead others if our young adults can’t do taxes when they come out of high school or see a button or cook for themselves. We are an obese, self indulgent, ignorant, narcissistic country who can’t even bring equality or education to our own citizens. We have no business telling other countries how to run their country, and no money to fund that above our STUDENTS.

    [Reply]

  2. Tina Carreon on May 3rd, 2017 12:57 am

    First allow me to say that perhaps some, if not all, of the members of the Mississippi Legislature did not attend MSMS, because from what I have observed by reading this article written by an MSMS student, as well as many other students who attend MSMS, including my daughter, these are the minds that have the ability to think things through, or “do the math” so to speak, before making a decision that could ultimately have a ripple effect on future outcomes. It is clear to me that the decision of this financial law for in-state Mississippi college bound students will cause more harm than good, on many levels.
    Secondly, this sounds like a great opportunity for some Mississippi students’ and parents’ voices to be heard. We can write to our legislators at any time. Their mailing addresses can easily be found. I have a cousin who has written to her Tennessee legislature before, and with only her one letter, changed the decision of her district’s representative. I am usually the type who will let things be as they may, especially when it comes to politics, but this gets my “mama claws” out and puts a pen in them. Seriously, I’m going to write to them. Representative Nick Bain lives right here in my town and has an office downtown. I may just have a sit-down with him. Anyone care to join me?

    [Reply]

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Mississippi Legislature Punishes Students for Remaining In State