Top Scholarships for Mississippi Students to Apply in May 2024

Student debt and the rising costs of a college education are issues that students from every state continue to struggle with. Scholarships in Mississippi can be a good way to supplement the costs of college for eligible Mississippi residents.

Many scholarship opportunities are available for students of all backgrounds and ages. Whether students are just starting to search for colleges, pursuing a bachelor’s degree, or already enrolled in graduate school, there are many academic scholarships students can apply for.

10 Scholarships for Mississippi Students

  1. Gabriel Martin Memorial Annual Scholarship
    • This $1,000 scholarship is aimed at uplifting first-generation students from Mississippi. Applicants must be juniors or seniors in high school who are pursuing education despite struggles with their health. This scholarship requires a short essay on the medical challenges the applicant has faced to apply.
  2. Opportunity for Financial Freedom Scholarship
    • This $500 scholarship is meant for a motivated student from Mississippi seeking to achieve their goals and reach financial independence. Applicants will need to write a short statement on what goals they have set for themselves and how these goals will help them achieve financial independence.
  3. Equal Opportunity Scholarship
    • This scholarship is designed to support high school students in Mississippi who have demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Applicants must submit an essay detailing their efforts to promote equal opportunity in their community.
  4. Jake Thomas Williams Memorial Scholarship
    • Aimed at high school seniors in Mississippi, this scholarship awards $1,000 to students who have shown resilience and determination in overcoming personal challenges. An essay on the obstacles faced and how they were overcome is required.
  5. Richard Neumann Scholarship
    • This scholarship is available to high school seniors in Mississippi planning to pursue a degree in engineering. Applicants must submit a personal statement outlining their career goals and interest in engineering.
  6. Nina L. Coleman Memorial Scholarship
    • This scholarship provides financial assistance to high school seniors in Mississippi who have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership. Applicants must write an essay on their leadership experiences and future goals.
  7. Enrique Castillo Educational Scholarship
    • This scholarship is for undergraduate students in Mississippi who are studying education. It aims to support future educators who are committed to making a positive impact in their communities.
  8. Bold Pay it Forward No Essay Scholarship
    • This scholarship is available to undergraduate students in Mississippi who have shown a commitment to helping others. No essay is required, but applicants must provide details of their community service activities.
  9. Carlos E. Reid XXV Scholarship
    • This scholarship is for undergraduate students in Mississippi who have demonstrated academic excellence and financial need. Applicants must submit a personal statement outlining their academic achievements and career goals.
  10. William M. DeSantis Sr Scholarship
    • This scholarship is available to graduate students in Mississippi who are pursuing a law degree. Applicants must write an essay on their interest in law and their career aspirations.

Mississippi Students and Student Debt

Mississippi students hold more debt in student loans than the average American student. Mississippi residents collectively hold $16 billion in student debts, and the average amount of debt a resident holds individually falls around $37,080 per person. Though student debt is a problem students continue to struggle with, most Mississippi residents do not hold student loans. 14.6% of Mississippi residents currently hold student loans, meaning Mississippi is home to about 431,500 student borrowers.

The majority of Mississippi students who hold federal student loans are between 35 and 49 years of age. This age group averages about $50,000 in student loans per person. However, this age group is also the group that typically owes the most money, meaning both younger and older borrowers usually owe less money in student loans.

Education in Mississippi

As society becomes more educated, more children go through the public school system and continue on to college or university. The education level that most Mississippi residents have achieved is high school. 584,284 residents have graduated with a high school diploma or reached an equivalent level of education. The second most represented education level in Mississippi is some college education, with no degree. 447,921 Mississippi students have completed some college coursework but have not graduated from their program.

The education level least common among Mississippi residents is 9th grade or lower. Only 84,169 residents ended their education before 9th grade. This is likely because most students choose to continue their education at least to the high school level. 208,610 students in Mississippi have attained an Associate’s degree, 285,967 students have earned a Bachelor’s degree, and 203,048 students have a graduate or professional degree.

Mississippi Colleges

One of the most popular universities in the state of Mississippi is the University of Mississippi. The average undergraduate tuition in the 2019 school year was $8,718. With housing and other expenses added, the total average cost for undergraduate students was $14,672. The University of Mississippi was home to 21,617 students in 2019, with 88.6% of those students enrolled full-time. The graduation rate in the 2018 academic year was just under 65%.

Financial aid is determined based on income level. 68% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid, and 36% of undergraduates receive a federal loan.

Another common choice for Mississippi residents is Mississippi College, a private four-year institution. The cost of full-time tuition for one semester is $9,828, though this does not include other fees. Housing, for example, costs $3,000 per semester, which becomes more expensive with the purchase of a meal plan.

Mississippi College Demographics

More and more high school seniors are choosing to attend higher education after graduation. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher degree can lead to better job opportunities and a higher starting salary. 22,986 students are enrolled in Mississippi State University, which breaks down into 18,803 undergraduate students and 4,183 graduate students.

The majority of the students enrolled at Mississippi State University are full-time students. Just 3,908 students have a part-time status, meaning 19,078 students are enrolled full-time. The gender breakdown is almost exactly even, with 11,317 male students and 11,669 female students.

73.4% of Mississippi State University students are of Caucasian descent. The second-largest ethnic group represented at Mississippi State University is African Americans, who make up 17.8% of the student body. Hispanic, Native American, Asian, and other groups all make up less than 4% of the student population.

The majority of undergraduate students at Mississippi State University are between 20-21 years of age. The age group most represented among the graduate students is those between 25-29 years of age.

Similarly, at the University of Mississippi, 75.2% of enrolled students are white, and 12.4% of students are African American. Once again, Hispanic, biracial, Asian, and other groups comprise less than 4% of the student body.

The Best Scholarships for Mississippi Students

All scholarships have certain requirements to determine which students can apply. For example, some scholarships are only available to students studying a certain academic subject, or a scholarship might only be available to graduate students and not undergraduate students.

Similarly, some scholarships are only available to students from Mississippi. Students that reside in other states will not be eligible for these financial opportunities, which can narrow the competition Mississippi students face.

Additional Scholarships Mississippi Students Should Consider

Applying to a wide variety of scholarships can help increase students’ chances of winning scholarship money. Many scholarships require applicants to be of a certain grade level or study a certain academic discipline. Finding the right scholarship for you is important. Below are some scholarships Mississippi students of all grade levels may be eligible for:

Scholarships for High School Students in Mississippi

High school is a wonderful time to begin applying for scholarships. Applying early will give you extra time to earn more money to cover your costs. You can start your scholarship application journey with the following scholarships:

  • Equal Opportunity Scholarship
  • Bold Hobbies Scholarship

Scholarships for High School Seniors in Mississippi

In addition to broader high school scholarships like the ones above, high school seniors should also consider the following scholarships due to their lower eligible applicant pool:

  • Jake Thomas Williams Memorial Scholarship
  • Richard Neumann Scholarship
  • Nina L. Coleman Memorial Scholarship

Mississippi Scholarships for Undergraduate College Students

Whether you’re continuing your scholarship search process or just beginning, college is a great time to focus on securing the funds you need to complete your education. Opportunities like the following were created specifically to help undergraduate students finance their degrees:

  • Enrique Castillo Educational Scholarship
  • Bold Pay it Forward No Essay Scholarship
  • Carlos E. Reid XXV Scholarship

Mississippi Scholarships for Graduate College Students

Graduate school is often even more expensive than traditional undergraduate degrees. Additionally, the academic rigor and demanding nature of graduate programs may make it difficult for students to work while pursuing their degrees. Scholarships like the ones below can help relieve this financial burden so you can afford to continue your education:

  • Diversity in Law Scholarship
  • Bold Future Teachers of America Scholarship
  • William M. DeSantis Sr Scholarship

Frequently Asked Questions About Scholarships in Mississippi

How do I apply for scholarships in Mississippi?

The application process for scholarships is as simple as possible. The first step is choosing a platform or resource that matches your needs.

For example, you may be able to find scholarships through your school’s financial aid office or guidance counseling office. There are also online platforms that can supply students with access to hundreds of exclusive scholarships, all in one place.

With a financial aid or guidance office, students may be able to find scholarships specifically offered to students at their school. The application process will likely depend heavily on the financial aid or guidance office, but in most cases, students will only need to fill out a form with their personal information or write a short essay to be considered.

Online platforms may offer an easier application process in this regard since the application process will be more streamlined. For example, after creating a free profile, students will only need to click on scholarships to apply or provide short essays for scholarships that require them. By inputting some of your personal information and academic interests, third-party platforms can help shorten the application process by recommending scholarships that match your profile information.

In addition, creating a profile or using an online tool can help students find relevant opportunities faster. Often, scholarship websites will allow students to search for scholarships with filters or other tools that account for the student’s academic interests, demographics, hobbies, and grade level.

Whether you find scholarships through resources like your school’s financial counseling services or through an online platform, scholarships will usually require at most two things from applicants: some personal information and an essay statement. Some scholarships don’t even require an essay.

Your personal information is used to determine whether you match the requirements for the scholarship. For example, if a scholarship is only open to art majors, students studying other fields will not be allowed to apply.

The essay requirement, if there is one, will likely require you to write a paragraph or two on the topic of the scholarship. For example, a scholarship aimed at raising awareness for mental health issues may ask you to write about your own experiences with maintaining good mental health.

Most scholarship essays are fairly short and straightforward. Additionally, most essays ask you to write about yourself, your goals, or your experiences, meaning you normally don’t have to do outside research to apply. Stick to the prompt and make sure to be original to put your best foot forward with your essays!

Can you combine a Mississippi college grant and an academic scholarship?

College grants and scholarships are often used as interchangeable terms. They do have some similarities, but they don’t refer to the same type of financial aid.

Both grants and scholarships are forms of gift aid. Gift aid does not need to be repaid like a loan does, meaning grants and scholarships are both essentially free money. This can be a helpful way to ease the financial burden of paying for college without creating more financial problems for yourself in the future.

However, grants are not the same as scholarships. Grants are typically based solely on demonstrated financial need. Demonstrated financial need is often determined by examining the gap between the estimated total cost of college or university and how much money the family will provide to pay for college. Essentially, subtracting your family’s financial contribution from the total amount you need to pay will give you your demonstrated financial need.

Scholarships, on the other hand, are usually based on merit or other qualifying characteristics, such as major, demographic, or location. Applicants may not need to provide proof of demonstrated financial need to apply for a scholarship. In most cases, applicants only need to fit the stated requirements for a certain scholarship to apply.

In addition, grants are generally awarded by larger institutions. It’s common for a college or university to offer grants, and the single largest grant program, the Federal Pell Grant, is funded by the national government. Many grants fall into the category of federal student aid. Scholarships, however, are typically funded by smaller organizations, families, small businesses, and even individuals hoping to make a difference.

In most cases, applying for and receiving scholarship money will not affect any grants you may be eligible to receive. Grants are based on whether you demonstrate financial need, but they often don’t cover the full cost of a student’s education, leaving a gap that is often filled by student loans or scholarships. As long as your scholarship money and grant money add up to less than your total demonstrated financial need, scholarship money will not affect the status of your grant.

For example, if a student qualifies for $30,000 in demonstrated financial need, they may receive a grant for $20,000. This leaves $10,000 of unmet demonstrated financial need. Therefore, as long as any scholarship money received is not more than $10,000, the student’s grant money will not be affected.

Though scholarships are a legitimate and easy way to help pay for college or university, it is unlikely that a single student will receive so much scholarship money that their grant is affected. In most cases, students will be able to use both grant and scholarship money to pay for higher education without running into any difficulties.

When can I start applying for scholarships?

There’s no right or wrong time to begin applying for scholarships. Students of all education levels can find scholarships they are eligible for.

These eligible groups include high school seniors, undergraduate college students, and graduate college students. However, even high school juniors or underclassmen may be able to find scholarships for them, and occasionally recent college graduates will also be able to apply, especially if they’re still repaying student loans.

It’s typically better to start applying for scholarships earlier rather than later, if possible, for a few reasons. First, starting earlier will allow you to have more time to apply for scholarships. A high school senior can apply for scholarships during their senior year, as well as four years in college. A sophomore in college may only be able to apply for scholarships for three years. Starting earlier may help maximize the money you earn from scholarships.

Second, receiving money from scholarships earlier can help you judge what your budget is for college, or how much money you may need to borrow. By amassing some scholarship money before applying or going to college, students can make a more informed financial decision on how they will pay for college and what colleges they will be able to pay for.

However, even if you start applying for scholarships in the latter half of your academic career, you can still earn a decent amount of money from scholarships. Even after committing to college or attending a few years of college, having extra money for tuition and housing expenses can still help decrease the financial burden of college. College or university students may even want to start saving money for graduate school or a semester abroad.

Essentially, students can begin applying for scholarships at any point in their academic career, though applying earlier is often beneficial.

How do I know if I’m eligible for a scholarship?

Most scholarships will list their requirements in the description. Make sure to carefully read the description for all the requirements, as your application likely will not be considered if you do not match all the criteria and you don’t want to waste valuable time on a scholarship you don’t qualify for.

Scholarships can be restricted by several criteria, including but not limited to education level, demographics, academic interests, extracurricular involvement, and income level. A minimum high school GPA or college GPA may also be a requirement for receiving the money.

Some scholarships may only be open to high school students or undergraduate students, but not graduate students. Some scholarships that are restricted by major will require students to study a particular field, such as biology. Other scholarships for students interested in academic fields may use a broader term, such as STEM, that will include more eligible majors. Some scholarships are committed to making education more accessible for everyone and uplifting students from historically underrepresented groups. For example, there may be scholarships only available to African American students, Asian American students, or all BIPOC students.

Often, scholarships will combine several of these criteria to narrow down the applicant pool. As an example, it’s common for a scholarship to only allow African American high school seniors interested in medicine to apply. This means applicants must meet three criteria: demographic, education level, and academic field to be considered eligible. Meeting just one or two of these criteria will not qualify you.

However, even though many scholarships will list several requirements, the abundance of scholarships means there is a scholarship available for everyone. In addition, some very general scholarships are open to students of any background, grade level, demographic, and academic interest.

These general scholarships will be easier to apply to, but applicants will face a greater volume of competition. More specific scholarships decrease the competition students face when applying, which then increases their chances of winning.

Applying to both general and specific scholarships is a good idea. The general scholarships will take less time to apply to, and the specific scholarships will reduce your competition, increasing your chances of earning scholarship money.

What do I have to do to apply for scholarships?

In most cases, applying for a scholarship should be relatively quick and easy. As we’ve covered in the eligibility section, the hardest part of applying for a scholarship is qualifying. Once you’ve verified that you’re eligible, very little action is required from you.

Usually, scholarships will first require some personal information from students to see if they are a match for the listed scholarship criteria. When using an online platform, your profile will likely provide this information for your application. A scholarship you may find through a teacher or school may have you fill out a form instead.

The second part, if there is one, will be the application essay. Often, the essay is used as a way to decrease the volume of applications. Many students will opt to only apply for no-essay scholarships. This is a valid option, but know that applying for essay scholarships will normally give you a higher chance of winning due to the large number of applicants who go for no-essay options.

The essay section is typically relatively short and will require you to write about the theme of the scholarship. An arts scholarship may ask eligible applicants to describe a piece of art they admire or their most recent work of art. These essays help donors determine which students are the most passionate about their interests and goals, so speaking from personal experience is often helpful.

In many cases, the essay portion exists because donors want to get a better sense of who the applicant is. In that regard, the essay question should be relatively low-stress and will often be a personal question.

In a nutshell, most scholarships are easy to apply to and will only require students’ personal information. Sometimes, a short personal essay is also required or you may be asked to upload an image or video instead.

Are scholarships counted as income?

The short answer is that no, scholarships are not counted as income.

Scholarships are generally tax-free depending on what recipients use the scholarship money for. Scholarship money that is used for qualified educational expenses is not taxed.

Qualified educational expenses are fees that students cannot feasibly graduate without paying. Qualified educational expenses are tuition, textbook and equipment fees, mandatory course fees, and mandatory enrollment fees. Housing, or travel expenses, do not count as necessary expenses.

In addition, for scholarship money to remain tax-free, the following conditions must be met: 1) The money earned from a scholarship does not exceed the total amount your institution costs, 2) the recipient of the scholarship money is completing a degree at an accredited school, 3) the money is not given in exchange for a job or service provided, and 4) the money is not marked for other expenses like room and board.

Typically, scholarship money will be given to the recipient to use as they see fit. As long as you make sure your scholarship winnings go toward qualified educational expenses, scholarship money you earn will not count as taxable income.