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Legislation aimed at career tech student aid gains momentum

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

The Universities and Colleges Committee for the House of Representatives approved an amendment to a senate bill, SB 2724, to create the Mississippi Career Promise program.
(Photo by Jeremy Pittari | Magnolia Tribune)

  • Funding for Mississippi Promise will focus on career and technical programs to address workforce needs in the state.

Providing more funding to help train and expand Mississippi’s workforce has been a priority during the 2024 legislative session.

A previous bill, HB 994, authored by State Representative Donnie Scoggin (R), proposed to expand the Mississippi Resident Tuition Assistance Grant (MTAG) program and increase the awards based on income, but it died in the House Appropriations Committee earlier this session.

Now, a similar bill, SB 2724, authored by State Senator Nicole Boyd (R) is moving forward after the Senate adopted a committee substitute by a vote of 48-3.

The bill was moved to the House and brought before the House Universities and Colleges Committee by Chairman Scoggin this week. The legislation now includes the Mississippi Career Promise program which focuses on increasing the state’s workforce by helping those high school graduates who are interested in a career tech certification program at community colleges in the state.

Wednesday’s amendment means the legislation would initially include the career fields of nursing, vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, industrial maintenance, specialty metal works, electricity, electricians, electrical equipment, line workers, respiratory and radiation therapists, heating and air, electrical engineering and paramedics. Rep. Scoggin said those fields were chosen because they are in high demand. 

The Mississippi Career Promise program will be capped at $3.5 million in the first year. As such, it will not provide full funding for students to receive those certifications, but rather be part of a series of grants and scholarships. Students would still need to apply for all available scholarships, as well as state and federal financial aid. 

“This will simply be the last dollar. They will still need to get their financial aid, they’ll get their PELL grant, scholarships and everything else, but this will just be the last dollar,” Rep. Scoggin described.

If the program is successful, it may be expanded in the future. 

“We’re promoting it as a pilot program just simply to see how it goes. If it works and works well depending on the amount of people that access this then we may can expand it to full community colleges or whatever the Lt. Governor wants to do,” Rep. Scoggin added. 

If the student receives enough in Promise funds, federal grants, scholarships and state funds, it could mean their tuition is free.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (R) has previously said that he wants to provide free community college to all Mississippi residents. The plan to provide free community college for all was expected to cost the state about $41 million, Rep. Scoggin told his House committee.

The bill was double referred in the House, meaning it must now clear the House Appropriations Committee before being considered by the full chamber.

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

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