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By The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi State University will offer $6,000 scholarships, over four years, to all winners of the Mississippi Economic Council’s Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition program.

MSU President Mark Keenum announced the plan Thursday at MEC’s annual Capital Day meeting in Jackson.

“We want to see our best and brightest students in Mississippi stay in Mississippi,” Keenum said.

STAR award winners must score at least 25 on the ACT college test and have grades averaging 93 or above in selected subjects. Keenum says such students already qualify for at least $12,000 in aid over four years at MSU. Combined with the $6,000, that covers at least $18,000 of MSU’s $25,000 in-state tuition over four years. Room, board, books and other expenses cost more.

MSU requires students to maintain a 3.0 grade point average to keep their scholarships each year.

More than 300 Mississippi high schools name a STAR award winner each year, but MEC provides scholarships to only the 20 highest-ranked winners in the state. The top winner statewide gets $24,000, while the runner-up gets $20,000 and the No. 3 finisher gets $16,000. But the remaining 17 highest-ranked students receive only $500 awards.

“It’s really exciting to have some tangible additional scholarships,” said David Gates, the president of Atmos Energy Corp.’s Mississippi unit and the head of MEC’s scholarship fund. “The top ones get recognized but not all of them do.”

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