On Wednesday, December 8, higher education reporter Molly Minta answered your questions about the Mississippi One Grant, a financial aid proposal, through our students text line.
Below is a selection of reader questions asked during the AMA that were answered by Molly.
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How will MS and low income students miss out under the One Grant?
There are a number of reasons why some people argue the state of Mississippi will not be served by the One Grant, but one big reason is that financial aid plays a key role in workforce development. Those who can’t afford college without financial aid also tend to work unskilled, low-wage jobs. If the state of Mississippi wants to bolster its economy, it needs skilled college graduates, and that means helping low-income people afford to pay for college. But the One Grant will actually award thousands of dollars less in aid to low-income students compared to Mississippi’s current programs.
If the proposed legislation passes how soon would it be in place?
It’s too early to tell because we don’t have legislation yet. Students who currently receive financial aid will not be affected, though.
Wouldn’t this negatively affect the state’s HBCUs?
It’s important to note here that the state awards financial aid to students, not to the schools they go to. The One Grant would not negatively affect Mississippi’s HBCUs so much as it would maintain the status quo. The Black and low-income students who predominantly attend the HBCUs are not well-served by the state’s current programs. As a result, Mississippi’s HBCUs receive millions of dollars less in financial aid under the current financial aid programs. The One Grant would not change that.
What is the cut off salary to not get any aid?
The One Grant does not propose a maximum salary that would prevent a student or family from qualifying for state aid. Students who come from families that have an Expected Family Contribution greater than $9,001 will not receive a need award under the One Grant, but they could qualify for a merit award if their ACT score is 21 or higher.
What are the qualifications?
To qualify for the proposed One Grant, students must be a Mississippi resident, complete the FAFSA, have a 2.5 high school GPA, and take at least 12 credit hours a semester. They would also need to score at least 18 on the ACT.
Why would the One Grant not affect the white students?
The answer to this has to do with the relationship between race and class in Mississippi. The One Grant is redistributing financial aid to middle-income students; it is also cutting the HELP grant, which is awarded to low-income students. On the whole, white families and students in Mississippi tend to be wealthier than Black families and students. As a result, policies that aim to help the middle-class in this state will tend to disproportionately benefit white people.
What if I don’t have my parents’ income for my FAFSA application?
The financial aid office at the college you want to attend may be able to help, but I would recommend reaching out to Get2College. It’s a non-profit aimed at helping students in Mississippi complete the FAFSA. They will be able to give you the best advice. You can reach them here: https://get2college.org/contact-us
If the One Grant hurts potential low income and minority students how would it be considered fair for all Mississippians?
I haven’t seen anyone argue the One Grant is fair for all Mississippians. In fact, the Post-Secondary Board has been clear that this program will not benefit everyone equally. At the meeting proposing the program, the board chairman Jim Turcoutte said: “There’s one pie (of money) and we can divide it up in various ways. We’re suggesting we want to help more students. There are winners and losers.”