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College Countdown MS training seminar for Jackson Public Schools
Courtesy: IHL

There's a new state pilot program getting underway to encourage more students to sign up for federal student aid to go to college. MPB's Mark Rigsby reports on College Countdown Mississippi.

Education leaders want to help high school students take the next step to college, by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA for short. Heather Morrison is the project coordinator for the Institutions of Higher Learning.

"We are educating our counselors on application process, educating the counselors on the financial aid piece, and then educating them on how do we celebrate the successes of our students," says Morrison.

Morrison says getting kids to graduate high school, exposing them to a college environment, and navigating and completing the college aid application process are important to get students to the next level of learning.

"Students don't know what they don't know. We are here as educators to help them understand what's available," says Morrison.

Training seminars were held for counselors in Jackson and in the Delta recently, where there are higher concentrations of first-generation college students. Ann Hendrick is Director of the Get2College program for the Education Services Foundation.

"Our goal is to get them to understand the importance, help them with the application, and help them with the financial aid applications as well," says Hendrick.

Hendrick says colleges and universities, the state, and private foundations also use the FAFSA to award need based scholarships.