College Goal Sunday comes to the coast - - The News for South Mississippi

College Goal Sunday comes to the coast

By Jessica Bowman – email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - GEAR UP Mississippi put on a statewide event called "College Goal Sunday" on Saturday. This is an annual event that helps students wanting to go to college by allowing them to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

One of the events was held at the Gulf Coast Community College JD campus.

College classes for free?  For most that phrase seems unlikely, but you might be surprised.

GEAR UP Mississippi College Coach Ben Esquibel said, "629 scholarships available and in most cases in many cases they go unused because people don't apply for them."

More than 50 college bound students took advantage of that opportunity.

Student Beverette Thompson said, "I mostly found a lot of grants and I think I might be ready for school now."

College Goal Sunday is a free program that helps students and their families complete a free application for student aid. Once the application is completed students then qualify for hundreds of different types of scholarships.

Student's dad Beverette Thompson said, "I don't know anyone who couldn't use a little extra money and putting their children in school."

GEAR UP Mississippi College Coach Ben Esquibel said, "For the first time their looking at what they're going to need for the next four years in terms of scholarships, grants, making decisions what college their going to select."

The State College Board has voted to raise tuition at Mississippi's eight public universities. That increase ranges from 4.5% to 9%.

Student Courtney Ware said, "School is expensive and it's really nice when you can have some help."

Courtney Ware is an independent student at JD, after graduating in May, she plans to continue her education at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Courtney Ware said, "We're just trying to figure out what all I can get to help me pay for school."

After completing the application a confirmation number is printed out.

Ben Esquibel said, "They know they already have met the initial pre-requisites, in the meantime their submitting their ACT scores SAT scores and making their end of year perpetration for graduation."

GEAR UP Mississippi College Coach Ben Esquibel says it will be several months before each student finds out if they qualify for any financial assistance.

College Goal Sunday programs are on-going.

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