Facing budget constraints, the Mississippi state legislature recently signed off on a bill in March that would prevent college students from using multiple grants in a school year, setting up a situation where students in the state could lose hundreds of dollars in aid.
The bill prevents college students from receiving more than one grant from the state. It requires colleges and universities to check students’ GPAs at the end of each semester (which was previously after academic year) to make sure that they are holding up their academic end of the deal.
Since the bill was passed by the legislature, all it needs is the signature of Governor Phil Bryant in order to become a law. Under this piece of legislation, students would receive the maximum value grant that they are eligible for, but they would be barred from any additional grants that they may have received previously from the state.
Jennifer Rogers, director of the Mississippi Office of Financial Aid, told DM Online that demand for state financial aid increased during the past few years with demand now outstripping the available aid by around $11 million. “Had the legislature not made these changes, we might have been forced to prorate,” Rogers said in the comment.
The move on the part of the state of Mississippi to get rid of grant stacking comes amid record-breaking student loan debt across the nation. On average, graduate borrowers owe $28,000, but in Mississippi, that figure is higher than the national average, coming in at $29,945 according to data from LendEDU. About 60 percent of all graduates from the state have at least on student loan according to the same report.
If the bill is signed into law, the affected grant programs would include the Mississippi Tuition Grant, the Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant, the Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students, the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers, the Firemen Scholarship, and the Nissan Scholarship according to The DM Online. While some of the grants are small, the ability to stack multiple grants in a semester or academic year went a long way in curbing the costs associated with attending a college or university.
“All those little things that you can stack up are what makes the college financial plan look affordable,” said Lauren Diven-Brown director of Ole Miss’ financial aid office in the report. “For students who have that financial need, every little bit helps to get more money, and every little bit hurts to get less money.”
Author: Andrew Rombach
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