Itawamba Community College in Tupelo, MS

Learn how Tupelo, MS's Itawamba Community College is implementing a program to help Lee County graduates go to college.

Kevin Litwin
On Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 23:49
Tupelo, MS Community College

College tuition can be expensive, but how does a tuition bill of zero dollars sound?

Two Years Tuition

Graduating seniors with a diploma from Lee County high schools will have their first two years of college paid for if they attend Itawamba Community College.

It's all a part of an initiative called the Lee County/Marchbanks Helping Hands Tuition Guarantee Program. The program was established by the local CREATE Foundation and the Lee County Board of Supervisors.

“The Lee County/Marchbanks program is named for John and Frances Marchbanks. John was a native of Shannon and along with his wife, Frances, envisioned a brighter future for all of northeast Mississippi,” says Jennie Hannah, CREATE Foundation director of communications.

“The Marchbanks left a gift of $8.5 million to benefit the region, and we believe they would be very pleased that their extraordinary gift is making a significant difference in our region.”

Tuition History

The tuition program has actually been around since 1996 when the CREATE Foundation’s Commission on the Future of Northeast Mississippi came up with the goal of providing two years of tuition-free education at a community college for each high school graduate in the region. The CREATE Foundation is the leading regional community foundation and the state's oldest.

In 1997, Meridian Community College implemented a tuition guarantee program for all high school graduates of Lauderdale County. Twelve years later, the same holds true for seniors in Lee County.

“By getting a high school diploma and two years of college, seniors obviously can increase their potential for a higher paying job as well as a better quality of life,” Hannah says. “They now have that option thanks to the tuition guarantee program.”

Read about more schools in Tupelo, MS.


Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years.