The State of Higher Education in Mississippi
• 48.5%: Percentage of Mississippi adults who have a degree or credential (compared to the 53.7% US national average).
• #47: Mississippi’s ranking amongst 50 US states for college degree completion.
• 316,000+: Number of Mississippi adults who have some college credits but no degree. This is 10.7% or more than 1 of every 10 adults in our state’s population.
In 2017, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) and the Mississippi Community College Board (MCCB) launched the Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program to increase the number of adults with a college degree.
The Complete 2 Compete (C2C) Strategy
The C2C program seeks to efficiently impact our state’s educational attainment statistics by focusing on helping those adults who left college without a degree to return and graduate.
C2C serves adults 21 years and older who have not attended college in at least 24 months and left with at least 12 earned credits but no degree.
Returning Adults Face Unique Barriers
Adults returning to college confront barriers that are distinct from students who transition directly from high school.
C2C Was Created to Help
To address these barriers, C2C combines the resources of our state’s 24 public higher education institutions with funding from the MS Department of Human Services and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to provide financial assistance, degree pathways, and coach support across all campuses:
• 15 public community colleges
• 8 public universities
• The University of MS Medical Center
IHL and MCCB – along with each of these public institutions- have maintained a focus on increasing the number of adults returning to college completing degrees and achieve brighter futures.
Since 2017, C2C has doubled the C2C Grant support available to students from $500 to $1,000 per semester. This lessened the financial burden to those Mississippi adults who can most benefit from the increase earning potential provided by a degree.
C2C has expanded outreach each year to reach those adults most in need. C2C has reached out to more than 110,000 former students using traditional direct mail and email as well as geographically targeted television, radio, and outdoor advertising, online advertising and social media.
To increase ease of access, C2C developed online program registration, paperless online grant application, and telephone assistance seven days a week, with evening hours to accommodate working adults.
Learn about the history of the program and the lives impacted in this 5-year anniversary article.
How C2C Serves
C2C combines student support and resources with organizational structure and systems to maximize the number of Mississippi adults impacted.
Providing trained C2C Coaches at each of the state’s 24 public institutions. These coaches help returning adults make the most of their earned credits and navigate the process of returning and completing a degree.
Promoting, processing and awarding grants to qualified adults to help offset or eliminate the cost of finishing college. As of 2022, C2C has provided more than $2.4 million in student grant awards.
Providing flexible, fast-path degree completion options, like the University Studies Degree Program. Tailored to meet the goals and aspirations of the returning adult, without sacrificing institutional academic standards. This is often a returning student’s fastest path to a degree. It has grown to be the most awarded degree in Mississippi.
Coordinating the efforts of the C2C Coaches across our state’s 24 colleges and sharing best practices to improve our effectiveness in helping adults finish their degrees.
Providing centralized tracking of returning students’ progression from first contact through graduation supports ongoing program results reporting and improvement.
Developing programs and policies to empower institutions to meet the needs of Mississippi adults.
Ensuring the sustainability of the program and the grant by seeking out and writing grants to renew existing and identify new funding opportunities.
Maintaining regular monthly outreach and marketing campaigns using a variety of media, to reach, encourage and inform former students of the resources available to them.
Reinforcing the impact of finishing a degree by sharing blog articles featuring insights and personal graduate success stories.
Continuing our social media, leveraging program participants and graduates to serve as program ambassadors within their peer networks and communities.
Many of those reached by C2C did not know that these resources were available to help them return and graduate from college.
C2C exists to help more adults in Mississippi to return to college and finish. As more people achieve their degrees we can have a positive effect on families, communities, and our state economy.
Here is a closer look at some of the effects that degree attainment can have:
• Better job options: communities attract employers seeking a highly skilled workforce.
• Increased wages: higher percentage of adults with well-paying jobs.
• Increased self-sufficiency: decreased unemployment, underemployment, and the percentage of people relying on public assistance.
• Improved outcomes for children: improvements in children’s physical & mental health, development, and school achievement as wages increase in communities.
Some think C2C is merely a program that helps adults finish their degrees. However, C2C’s goal helps participants enjoy better lives, recognize more opportunities, and experience brighter futures for both them and their families!
Supporting the Institutions that Create Our Growth
C2C’s work also helps to create sustainability for Mississippi higher education institutions by increasing enrollments and graduation rates.
Hear from Graduates
Are you in the stadium?
Imagine that you’re flying in a helicopter and look down to see a football stadium. The bold logo catches your attention but what really stands out are the CROWDS of people! The stands are packed, and you can almost hear the cheering.
But then you notice another identical stadium, also packed with people. Then there’s another… another… another… 5 stadiums FULL of people.
That’s about how many people in Mississippi have SOME COLLEGE CREDITS BUT NO DEGREE.
Yes, 316,490 people in Mississippi or about 5 football stadiums full, have spent some time in college but have never finished with a degree. Almost 85,000 of these adults could be 1, 2 or 3 classes away from finishing a degree!
Life happens and we can’t always finish college on our first attempt. However, this means that people with “Some College but No Degree” could be missing out on the good things that tend to come with a college credential.
C2C is here to help. If you or someone you know could benefit from finishing their degree, please learn more or register now.
• Educational Attainment Rates and National Ranking: Lumina Foundation Stronger Nation Report & Mississippi Progress Report
• Some College, No Degree: NSCRC Some College, No Credential Student Outcomes Annual Progress Report – Academic Year 2020/21
• Positive Outcomes on Children Because of Increased Wages: Boston Fed The Downstream Benefits of Higher Incomes and Wages Report
• Stadium Image Courtesy of the University of Mississippi