A college education is now an option for every high school graduate in Lee County. The Lee County Board of Supervisors and CREATE Foundation have established the Lee County/Marchbanks Helping Hand Tuition Guarantee Program. Beginning with the Class of 2009, Lee County high school graduates from Baldwyn, Mooreville, Nettleton, Shannon, Saltillo, and Tupelo will receive two full years of tuition free assistance to Itawamba Community College. “We are excited that today’s announcement will relieve the hardworking people of Lee County from taking out second mortgages, student loans, or other debt to provide their children with two years of college education,” said Bobby Smith, president, Lee County Board of Supervisors. The program, which is the first of its kind in the State of Mississippi, is designed to guarantee fully paid tuition for four regular semesters of instruction for Lee County residents attending Itawamba Community College. Graduating seniors will receive tuition assistance, if needed, to close the gap between available federal, state, and private aid. The purpose of the program is to improve educational attainment levels in Lee County, thus strengthening community and economic development. To apply, students will work closely with their high school guidance counselors and Itawamba Community College counselors. In return, participating students must complete 12 course hours per semester and maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average. “The CREATE Foundation is proud to serve as the lead agency for this program,” said CREATE Chairman, Larry Kirk. “Using monies from CREATE Foundation’s Marchbanks Endowment Fund, other business and industry private donations, and Lee County contributions to ICC, we have been able to establish the Lee County/Marchbanks Helping Hand Tuition Guarantee Program.” The John and Frances Marchbanks Endowment Fund was established at CREATE in 2006. John Marchbanks, a native of Shannon, and his wife, Frances, had a strong desire to help people overcome their problems, misfortunes, and hardships. They believed that providing a helping hand could enable people to achieve productive and meaningful lives. Over the past three years this $8.7 million dollar endowment has provided monies for grants to several organizations that satisfied the Marchbanks’ intent of serving people.
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