PERKINSTON, MS (WLOX) - Senator Roger Wicker visited South Mississippi Tuesday as part of a visit focused on education, namely institutes of higher learning. Wicker dropped by the Perkinston campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to have a conversation with faculty and administrators.
Among other topics, Dr. Mary Graham, president of the community college, pushed for a restructuring of higher education when it comes to how students pay.
"Right now, community colleges really don't have any discretion in who receives a student loan, yet we're held accountable if those loans are not paid back," said Graham.
That's something she wants to see changed at the next possible opportunity. She also hopes to see some changes to the Pell grant system, proposing a pay-as-you-go procedure for students.
"So that would encourage them to stay in class, continue with what they're doing, and to complete and finish at graduation. So we're hoping to do some new things like that in working with the senator," she said.
Graham may be in a better position to work with the senator and other national figures in 2017 after taking her new seat as chair of the American Association of Community Colleges. Senator Wicker seemed to be on board with her school of thought.
"We need to make these programs work better. It's also striking the number of federal agencies that a community college has to work with," said Wicker.
According to Wicker, he's always a fan of states having more power over decisions in education. He believes current federal programs and red tape might be a little too much. But, he believes that all could change soon at the capital.
Dr. Graham takes up her new role as chair of the American Association of Community Colleges in April.