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Tuition Guarantee
Breaking down the barriers at MCC

By Staff
TUITION GUARANTEE PROGRAM Nedra Bradley, left, a financial aid adviser at Meridian Community College, explains the basics of applying for financial aid to freshman Robin Shehane, who receives support from the MCC Foundation's Tuition Guarantee Program. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Nov. 14, 2002
Robin Shehane, a freshman studying public relations at Meridian Community College, said she would have gone "straight to Starkville" if not for the MCC Foundation's Tuition Guarantee Program.
Shehane is one about 350 students receiving money raised by the MCC Foundation through individuals and businesses in the community. The Foundation is preparing for its 2003 fund-raiser and will begin soliciting donations from businesses next month.
The program defrays the cost of tuition for all high school or home-schooled graduates of Lauderdale County who enroll full-time at MCC.
Money from the Tuition Guarantee Program is used to make up the balance tuition costs after scholarships and financial aid contributions are deducted from a student's bill.
All that is required of the students is that he or she sign a contract binding them to complete an MCC admissions application, take the American College Test, or ACT, apply for federal and state financial aid and grants, enroll as a full-time student and maintain a "C" average.
Last year, the foundation raised more than $200,000.
MCC President Dr. Scott Elliott said the program removed the monetary barrier for a lot of students.
Elliott said if there's a downside to the program, it is that people have gotten into the habit of referring to it as "MCC's free tuition program."
B.B. Archer, owner of Archer Architects, said he didn't hesitate when he was approached for a donation.
Hardy Graham, president of Meridian Coca-Cola, said he was chairman of the Foundation when it the program was initiated.
Another way to plan for the future:
The next deadline to enroll in the Mississippi Prepaid Affordable Tuition Program is Nov. 30.
MPACT guarantees full payment of tuition and mandatory fees at any public institution of higher learning in the state of Mississippi, no matter how much the cost of tuition rises between the time you purchase your contract and the time the child attends college.
The money can be used at any accredited in-state public or private university, in-state community colleges and private out-of-state colleges. It is transferable between immediate family members.
Children 18 years of age or younger are eligible for MPACT as long as the contract's purchaser lives in Mississippi. Payment options include lump sum, monthly payment plans and partial down payments followed by monthly payments.
All MPACT payments are refundable with interest, less applicable fees, and are exempt from Mississippi and federal income tax.

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