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STARKVILLE, Miss.—Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mississippi State University will assist up to 500 low-income students with money for school and a financial literacy program.

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The university’s Student Financial Aid Department received $731,618 in grant funds and MSU will match each grant dollar, providing a total of $1.46 million to assist low-income students through the MSU Educational Savings Grant.

“Diversity in ethnicity and economic background is an achieved goal of which we are proud,” MSU President Mark E. Keenum said. “We are also keenly aware of the specific needs of students with limited means. Mississippi State seeks to help such students achieve success in post-secondary education and reap the lifelong benefits it affords.”

The grant program will assist 500 low-income students over five years by guiding them through the process of opening a savings account for educational expenses. The university will then provide $4 in grant funds for every $1 deposited into the account by the student, providing the student with up to $2,500 in grant funds to help with the cost of paying for college. MSU Financial Literacy Coordinator John Daniels, who wrote the grant proposal, will lead financial education efforts for the grant recipients.

“The process of getting a savings account at a bank and making regular savings deposits will be part of this learning process,” Daniels said. “Another aspect will be a two-hour financial literacy seminar they will all participate in. We’ll discuss subjects like why a budget is important, why saving money is important, understanding interest and loans – and various ways to pay for school.”

The grant award marks the first time MSU’s Financial Aid Department has received a competitive grant. The department will use FAFSA data to select participants for the program.

Both Director of Financial Aid Paul McKinney and Daniels said they are appreciative of the university providing matching funds that will help low-income students succeed in college and beyond. The university launched a similar program on a smaller scale earlier this year.

“We wanted to see how it would go, and it’s been very successful this fall,” McKinney said. “We used that as a stepping stone anticipating this grant coming on board.”

For more information on the grant program, contact Daniels at john.daniels@msstate.edu.

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