Alcorn, MUW to offer breaks to non-Miss. students

Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Two more Mississippi public universities will offer tuition breaks to some out-of-state students.

Alcorn State University and the Mississippi University for Women received approval from the College Board Thursday to waive higher charges for non-Mississippi residents. They join Jackson State University, which got permission for a waiver in June.

The Legislature passed a law this year allowing universities to reduce tuition to in-state levels for some non-Mississippians. The schools lobbied for the measure, saying public colleges in other states were waiving charges for Mississippi students.

Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds said College Board staff members are closely watching the financial impact of Mississippi taxpayers subsidizing out-of-state students. He said the idea is to lure students who wouldn't otherwise attend, increasing revenue for the schools.

"The thing that's driving this is the need to increase enrollment because of declining state support," Bounds said Wednesday.

He said neither Alcorn State nor MUW are likely to see the full impact until next fall because the changes are being approved too late for recruiting more students.

MUW says it wants to offer waivers to holders of regional scholarships, students from four nearby Alabama counties, and students from the Birmingham and Mobile areas in Alabama and the Memphis, Tenn., area. It also wants to offer waivers to children of alumni.

Undergraduates who are Mississippi residents will pay $5,316 to attend MUW full time this year. Non-residents will pay $14,484. As at most schools, many students from both groups will pay less because of financial aid.

Alcorn State plans a two-pronged test. New students will be required to have earned a 3.0 grade point average in high school and at least an 18 on the ACT college test. An 18 is just below the 18.7 average for all Mississippi students tested in 2011. Current students, transfers or graduate students must have a 2.5 college grade point average.

Once that minimum academic threshold has been reached, the applicant must meet one of eight additional criteria. A student could be from a nearby part of Louisiana, help the historically black institution diversify its student body, have high test scores, plan to major in a small department such as math that Alcorn State wants to bolster, be from a rural area, be a military service member or veteran, plan to serve as a graduate assistant, need financial aid or have high standardized test scores. Alcorn State said it might issue partial waivers or only issue waivers to some eligible students.

Mississippi resident undergraduates will pay $5,712 to attend Alcorn State full time this year. Non-residents will pay $14,052.

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