Ole Miss Opportunity

(OXFORD, Miss.) – Low-income Mississippi students will be guaranteed financial aid support for tuition, housing and meals through a new UM scholarship program.

Days after the board of trustees of the state Institutions of Higher Learning approved a tuition increase for state universities to offset significant cuts in state funding, UM announced the creation of Ole Miss Opportunity.

“During these tough economic times, it is more important than ever to focus on access and affordability,” said Chancellor Dan Jones. “While we realize that increases in tuition will create hardships, we don’t want to decrease access to higher education for our neediest students. The Ole Miss Opportunity scholarship initiative will enhance access and support IHL’s goal to increase the number of baccalaureate degrees.”

UM is committed to extending a quality education to the broadest range of deserving students, regardless of income or need, said Larry Ridgeway, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“Today, more than ever, a college education is an essential step in developing a career and earning a good living,” he said. “Yet at the same time, an increasing number of potential students are from low-income families. Thus, the very people who could most benefit from a secondary education are the least likely to be able to afford it.”

Ole Miss Opportunity is a result of Chancellor Jones’ desire for a program that would improve the university’s commitment to increasing access to the neediest Mississippians, especially as the cost of education continues to rise, Ridgeway said.

The initiative was developed in part by identifying successful components of similar programs and then tailoring the program to fit the specific needs of UM and Mississippi students.

“The university has extensively studied need-based financial aid programs at other universities and believes Ole Miss Opportunity reflects the best practices identified in some of the most successful programs across the country,” said Laura Diven-Brown, UM director of financial aid.

The scholarship program will provide a combination of gift aid (federal, state, institutional, and private scholarships and grants), thereby guaranteeing that eligible Mississippi residents students get financial aid support to cover the average cost of tuition, residence hall housing and an allowance for meals. Students have opportunities to cover the remaining cost of books, transportation and personal expenses through the federal work-study program, loans or personal resources.

Students must meet the following criteria for eligibility:
    • Mississippi resident (eligible to pay resident tuition)
    • U.S. citizen
    • A new freshman beginning summer or fall 2010
    • Degree-seeking and enrolled full-time at UM
    • Family Adjusted Gross Income (as defined on the 2009 federal tax return) at or below $30,000
    • Confirmation that the student will qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, as determined by the 2010-11 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA
    • High school grade-point average of 2.5 or higher

For more information, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/finaid or call 800-891-4596.

Those interested in supporting Ole Miss Opportunity with private gifts of any size for an endowment may contact the University of Mississippi Foundation at 1-800-340-9542. Interested donors also may visit www.umfoundation.com/makeagift or mail checks to The University of Mississippi, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655.