Over the past year, the ‘Complete 2 Compete’ program has increased the number of adults finishing degrees at Mississippi’s public universities and community colleges. The initiative provides students with a $500 grant at the beginning of each semester to help cover tuition, supplies or other enrollment expenses. Students qualify if they are 21 or older, have been out of school for 24 months and have obtained some college credits without graduating.
“The C2C is an initiative to get more people over the finish line with a college degree,” said Emily Tucker, a recruiter and adviser at Itawamba Community College who oversees the school’s C2C program. “On an individual level, the college degree means more opportunities for career advancement. On a broader level, more people with college degrees is healthy for our state.”
Funding for the C2C program is provided by general funds, the Mississippi Department of Human Services, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security and the Kellogg Foundation. Eligible students can enroll at any of the state’s eight public universities or 15 community colleges.
For full-time students, tuition at ICC is $1,450 per semester. At Northeast Mississippi Community College, it’s $1,575, so a C2C grant cover about one third of a semester’s worth of tuition.
“Part of the mission of the community college system is to be more accessible in terms of location but also in terms of opportunities for adults to continue education,” Tucker said. “C2C helps adults finish what they started. And we’re already seeing results in the first year.”
Universities and community colleges began identifying and reaching out to potential C2C students at the start of the 2017-18 school year and started giving out grant money during the Spring 2018 semester. So far, the program has helped students obtain 323 associate’s degrees and 163 bachelor’s degrees. At ICC, 17 associated degrees have been awarded to C2C participants. For this Spring 2019 semester, 40 ICC students are enrolled with the help of C2C.