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Released March 14, 2003


HATTIESBURG - To benefit students taking classes simultaneously at The University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, the two institutions entered into a consortium agreement Friday that will allow for federal financial aid based on both enrollments.

The effort -- announced by Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames and MGCCC President Dr. Willis Lott during a signing ceremony at the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus in Long Beach -- will allow part-time students to receive maximum federal aid while dually enrolled.

"It is the goal of both Southern Miss and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to give students the best opportunity possible to achieve a quality education," Thames said.

"We want to eliminate any roadblock that might impede their path to quality education. Their access should be convenient and student-friendly," he added. "We have torn down one roadblock today by announcing the development of a consortium agreement."

Southern Miss and MGCCC have had a long friendship on the Gulf Coast. In 1976 the schools entered into the Two-Plus-Two agreement, which allowed undergraduate students to earn their first two years at MGCCC and then seamlessly transfer to Southern Miss for the second two years.

"The financial aid consortium is another step toward strengthening the partnership between Southern Miss and MGCCC in a way that benefits students," Lott said. "Our college appreciates Dr. Thames's leadership in finalizing the consortium. This is good news for students who are utilizing the resources of both the community college and the university to meet their educational goals."

Information received from the National Student Loan Data Systems Clearinghouse revealed that during the fall 2002 semester, 125 students were enrolled simultaneously at Southern Miss and MGCCC. This agreement, which becomes effective in fall 2003, will strengthen enrollment at both Southern Miss and MGCCC.

Thames said: "This agreement hopefully will encourage more students to obtain a degree. We know that sometimes financial challenges keep students from furthering their education, and we hope that with this effort we can alleviate that obstacle."


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM