Mississippians without high school diploma now eligible for federal financial aid

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Mississippians without a high school diploma can now get financial aid while enrolled in select programs at the state’s community colleges. 

Under a plan approved by the U.S. Department of Education, Mississippi is now the fourth state to allow those without a high school diploma to receive federal student financial aid for enrolling in eligible career pathway programs at a Mississippi community college.

In a news release, the Mississippi Community College Board (MCCB) explained that certain students who previously would not qualify for federal financial aid, including those without a high school diploma or its equivalent, may be eligible for these resources. This includes students enrolled in the Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (MIBEST) program.

Available at all 15 community colleges in the state, the program allows students without a diploma to participate in adult education and career/technical education courses. The MCCB says the result is students have the opportunity to earn a high school equivalency and other postsecondary credentials in less time.

“I am very appreciative to the DOE for approving our process for Ability to Benefit,” Dr. Andrea Mayfield Executive Director of the Mississippi Community College Board, said.  “In Mississippi, we have more than 360,000 people without a high school diploma.  Oftentimes, these individuals are not able to have resources to improve their educational levels and skills training.  By allowing access to Federal financial aid, more people will have the opportunity to better their lives by working with a community college.  This benefits everyone.”

MIBEST is funded through a partnership between the MCCB and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Women’s Foundation of Mississippi, and the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

“We could not be more pleased about the approval of the process for Ability to Benefit in Mississippi, and the potential to impact hundreds of thousands more Mississippians without a diploma to access Federal financial aid who otherwise could not enroll or afford community college,” Paula Sammons, program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation overseeing the MIBEST grant, said. “Our founder, Will Keith Kellogg, said that education is the best way for truly improving one generation over another, and this is a path that offers the opportunity to do just that.”

For additional information on the process for Ability to Benefit, please contact the Mississippi Community College Board at either 601-432-6518 or info@mccb.edu.

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