But on the real, let’s talk through one of the most daunting thoughts when thinking through your college decision: MONEY. Your education is an investment. We know it can be scary when trying to wade through the waters that are scholarships and financial aid. But I have fantastic news! You’re not in this alone.
Although MC has been ranked in the top 25 “Best College Buys” by Forbes, we take great joy in making it our mission to help students financially make MC a reality. Let’s do a break down, shall we? In essence, there are three pools of money to help fund your college education:
1. Institutional Scholarships
This is cha-ching that Mississippi Colleges gives to you based off differing areas. The largest foundation of MC Scholarships are our Academic Scholarships, awarded to freshmen based on their highest composite ACT or SAT score & awarded to transfers based on their incoming cumulative GPA. Check out what you may qualify for on our website! (And reach out to your Admissions Counselor! They will be your “person” this year to help guide you through all things the college search entails.)
The best part? There is no deadline for our academic scholarships! Meaning your Academic Scholarship can increase (based off of our scholarship matrix) up until the time you step foot on campus as an MC freshman or transfer. Yeah. Talk about SWEET ACTION!
(PS- We have a freshman Presidential Competition where students with a 29+ ACT score can compete in February for potential to receive significant scholarship bumps. Check out the Presidential Scholarships page for more information! Transfer students with a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher may compete in the Transfer Scholarship Competition for additional awards- deets to come soon!)
On top of this, we also have what we call MC Grants. This is determined by your EFC (or Estimated ]Family Contribution) produced by the FAFSA in the Spring.
“But wait, Michelle! I don’t think my family will qualify for any federal grants. I don’t think I’ll be eligible for anything.”
Never fear, my dear! We use a different formula that awards the majority of our students. In fact, you can go ahead & get a snapshot into what you’ll qualify for through our Net Price Calculator.
We also have Stackable Scholarships awarded for different things such as Eagle Scouts, National Merit Finalists and Semi-Finalists, etc. We also offer Music & Band Scholarships as well as Athletic ones. You can check out to see if you’re eligible for any of these scholarships. (Or you can talk to your Admissions Counselor. Am I loud & clear on this yet?)
2. State & Federal Aid
THE FAFSA. (Cue shrieking shrill)
A lot of families are terrified of the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Families often think they won’t qualify for anything. It’s important to fill it out wherever you go, because A.) You may be surprised by what you may qualify for, B.) All students are guaranteed student loans, and C.) It can’t hurt anything to fill one out. (It can only help!)
To fill out a FAFSA, parents need to complete their tax return and apply for a PIN for themselves and their students. This won’t be available until the spring, but it’s good to go ahead & be aware that it’s coming. Everybody qualifies for $5,500 in loans, and some families will qualify for grants or work study (money you don’t have to pay back).
- While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about loans for a minute. Many families are immediately turned off by the idea of a loan. We totally understand not wanting to take on any unnecessary debt. But just as a heads up, 7 out of 10 students (according to U.S. News & World Report) take out student loans in order to help with the cost of attending college. I mainly tell you this to let you know wherever you go, it’s fairly common to take out loans to help pay for your college degree. (Many of my students feel like they’re the only ones who have to do so, when that’s definitely not the case!)
- Loans are also fluid, and you can change however much you borrow (or do not borrow) each year. You might be offered $5,500 in student loans, and it’s up to you if you take out all $5,500 or just $50 of it. Loan repayment also doesn’t kick in until 6 months after your college graduation date. If you decide to further your education by going to medical school, graduate school, or law school, then your loans will be deferred until 6 months after the completion of that education. (Meaning, you have the time to get financially stable as you settle into your career! Can I get a “whoop whoop!")
If you reside in the state of Mississippi, check out Rise Up Mississippi for details surrounding various types of State Aid! There are even various programs (specifically for nursing and education majors) that will help pay for your tuition during your upperclassmen years. For example, through the William Winter Scholarship, education majors can receive up to $4,000 per year their junior & senior years. (GPA requirements/other restrictions may apply for different scholarship programs as well as loan forgiveness programs.)
3. Outside Scholarships
When I say outside scholarships, I’m talking about anything not under the umbrella of MC Scholarships or Federal/State Aid. This could be a local scholarship from your neighborhood YMCA, a one-time scholarship for being left-handed, or a scholarship through your community’s Exchange Club. There are so many scholarship opportunities out there! My biggest and first piece of advice is to become besties with your high school or college & career counselor. They’re going to be a huge asset in knowing what scholarships are available in your community!
I have good news, too! (“What more good news could you possible bear, Michelle?!”) Mississippi College has no stack limit to how many outside scholarships you bring in.
Many universities often tack on a limit to how many of these outside scholarships you bring in. But the way we see it, if you work hard to earn extra outside scholarships- then you should be able to stack that hard earned $$$ with your other scholarships and financial aid!
Websites I give out to my students who come visit with me are Fastweb, CollegeBoard, and Zinch. These are great starting places to hunt down potential scholarship opportunities. Get2College is also a great site in navigating through the financial aid and college search process! The Mississippi Baptist Foundation Scholarship: This is awarded to students who live in Mississippi & attend a Baptist institution in the state of Mississippi. (That would be us, my friend!)
I had one student this past year who applied for almost twenty outside scholarships. He only received four of them, but it was a FREE $4,200 he didn’t have to pay. You can’t lose by applying for as many as you can!
Although MC is almost $20,000 less than the average private university, we know the process of scholarships and financial aid can be overwhelming. Know this doesn’t have to be conquered alone! One of the greatest joys of my job is helping students turn over every stone possible in order to make MC a reality financially. All of us in the Admissions Office are here to help in that capacity! I also encourage you, as you venture into the college decision-making process, to weigh the value of what you’ll be getting to what you’ll be paying for. In other words, be sure the investment you’re putting into college financially will be well worth it in the end. Not only in terms of springboarding to your goals and getting a job after graduation, but in terms of your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being too.
Consider us “your people” this year. Never hesitate to give us a ring, shoot us an email, or come on a campus visit to walk through your options. (Or even talk through life freak-out moments.) We’re praying for you throughout this journey, and I think you’ll be wonderfully surprised how financially affordable MC can be.
Until next time,
Michelle - The Swiftie, Pug Lover, and Tea Enthusiast