From left, Steve Jaworowski, vice president of marketing operations, LK Marketing; John Davis, Department of Human Services; Stephanie Bullock, Institutes of Higher Learning; Gov. Phil Bryant; Dr. Andrea Mayfield, Mississippi Community College Board; Dr. Glenn Boyce, IHL; Dr. Casey Turnage, IHL; and Audra Kimble, MCCB gather to announce the launch of the Complete 2 Compete website.


Public colleges and universities will receive $3.5 million through the state’s Complete 2 Compete program — an initiative aimed at helping adult learners who left college return and obtain a degree.

The donation, given by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will be used throughout the next two years for Complete 2 Compete Tuition Assistance Grants to help students minimize the cost of coming back to college.

However, adult learners who have already re-enrolled are not eligible for the grant. To be eligible, a student must not have attended a post-secondary institution within the past 24 consecutive months.

These grants will remove the financial roadblock and clear the pathway for former students to pursue their dreams of earning a degree, which will in turn open many more doors for them,” said Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education.

Boyce has also noted that Mississippi is one of nine states in the country to attempt a statewide haul at getting adult learners re-enrolled in college programs.

“Only nine states in the entire country have true statewide initiatives to try to do something about this adult population. That speaks volumes,” Boyce said at an October Education Achievement Council meeting.

The initiative could eventually help award 200,000-plus Mississippians with college degrees, including 28,000 students who have enough credits to earn an associate’s degree with no additional course work and more than 100,000 former students who can earn either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree with some additional course work.

Up to 7,000 students can receive one of these grants at $500 each, which can be put toward debt already owed to an institution, textbook costs or tuition assistance.  

“Many adults who started a degree but didn’t finish would like to return to college, but they don’t know where to start,” said Dr. Casey Turnage, Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for IHL. “Complete 2 Compete will guide students through the process of returning to college.”

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Kelsey Davis Betz is from Mobile, Ala., and currently lives in Cleveland, where she worked as a Mississippi Delta-based reporter covering education and intersecting issues. Kelsey has a dual degree in journalism and Spanish from Auburn University and worked as an editorial intern at Texas Monthly and a courts reporter at the Montgomery Advertiser. She is a 2018 Educating Children in Mississippi Fellow at the Hechinger Report and is a co-founder of the Mississippi Delta Public Newsroom.