About C2C

In 2017, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) and the Mississippi Community College Board (MCCB) launched the Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program.

C2C’s Assigned Goal

Increase the number of adults with a college degree.

The Higher Education Challenge in Mississippi

  • 48.5%: Percentage of Mississippi adults with a degree or credential.

    (compared to the 53.7% US national average)

  • #47: Mississippi’s ranking amongst 50 US states for college degree completion.
  • 316,000+: Number of Mississippi adults with some college credits but no degree.

    This is 10.7% or more than 1 of every 10 adults in our state.

The Complete 2 Compete (C2C) Strategy

To maximize the impact on Mississippi’s educational attainment statistics, the C2C program concentrates its resources on assisting those closest to completing a degree, adults who left college prematurely without a degree.

The C2C program defines its audience as Mississippi adults 21 years and older who have been out of college for two or more years and left with at least 12 earned credits but no degree.

C2C’s focus is on removing the common barriers preventing these Mississippians from returning and successfully completing a degree.

Unique Barriers Faced by Returning Adults

Adults returning to college confront barriers that are distinct from students who transition directly from high school.

Financial Constraints:

Many returning adults have limited income and children to support, making college expenses impossible to take on, particularly on top of the increasing cost of living.

Time Constraints:

Returning adults typically work full-time to provide for their families. Many are challenged to accommodate college class attendance and assignments in addition to their work, family and life commitments.

Support Constraints:

Returning adults often find it difficult to connect with the support needed to navigate the complexities of being re-admitted and the resources to succeed and complete a degree.

How C2C Serves Returning Adult Students

C2C partners with our state’s 24 public higher education institutions to provide outreach, C2C Coach support, tuition assistance, and other student support services across all college campuses. 

The following is a listing of C2C program activities and student support offerings. 

  • University Studies Degree – Providing flexible, fast-path degree completion options. The University Studies Program is one tailored to meet the goals and aspirations of the returning adult without sacrificing institutional academic standards. It has grown to be one of the most awarded degrees in Mississippi.
  • C2C Grant – Promoting, processing, and awarding renewable grants that help returning adults offset or eliminate the cost of tuition.  As of 2022, C2C has provided more than $2.4M in student grant awards.
  • C2C Coach Support – Coordinating with each of the state’s 24 public institutions to provide C2C Coach support. Coaches help adults navigate the complexities of returning to college. They also provide student ‘check-ins’ each term to identify concerns early so students can be connected with the available resources they need to graduate.
  • Ongoing Coach Training & Support – Providing C2C Coaches across our state’s 24 colleges with program training and sharing best practices to improve their effectiveness in helping adults navigate the complexities of returning and finishing their degrees.
  • Student Referral, Tracking & Grant Administration – Providing an efficient system that refers returning students to each campus and tracks their progress from first contact through graduation. This centralized system also supports grant application processing as well as ongoing program results reporting.
  • Program & Grant Sustainability – Ensuring the sustainability of program marketing and support and the C2C Grant by seeking and writing grants to renew existing and identify new funding opportunities.
  • Student Outreach – Maintaining regular outreach and marketing campaigns using both traditional and digital mediums.  
  • Enhanced Content – Providing relevant and engaging content to reach, encourage and inform former students of the resources available to them.
  • Program Ambassadors – Continuing the program’s success with social media by leveraging program participants and graduates to serve as program ambassadors within their peer networks and communities.

Each day C2C succeeds in reaching and changing the life of someone who was previously unaware that these resources were available to help them return and graduate from college.

Five Years of Impact

The following is a look at attainment trending in Mississippi, lives impacted, and the opportunities remaining.

Positive Attainment Trending

Mississippians age 25-64 

Since the program’s launch in 2017, Mississippi’s attainment rates have risen steadily. During this same period, the number of those in the state with some college but no degree has fallen.

  • 29% – Percentage increase in attainment rate between 2016 through 2021. 
  • 46% – Percentage decrease in adults with some college and no degree.

Lives Impacted

  • 5,851Number of adults re-enrolled through the C2C Program through 2021.
  • 3,136 – Total degrees issued to C2C program participants through 2021.
  • 1,914 and 1,216 – Number of bachelor’s and associate degrees issued.

Opportunities Remaining

  • 200,543 – Number of responses and inquiries generated from the marketing impressions.
  • 110,000 – Number of former students targeted through expanded direct marketing.
  • 85,000 – Number of former students who left prematurely and could be less than three classes away from a degree!

Innovations & Support Enhancements

  • Paperless Program Registration and Online Grant Applications – Innovations made to help make the C2C program more accessible to Mississippi adults.
  • 7 days a week and in the evenings – Telephone support is provided to accommodate working adults and those lacking internet access.
  • 33 and growing – Number of dedicated C2C coaches staffed across the state’s 24 Community colleges and Universities.
  • $500 to $1,000 – Increase in maximum Grant award available to a returning student each term, thanks to IHL grants awarded.
  • Learn more about the program and the lives it’s impacted in this article celebrating C2C’s 5th anniversary.

Our Why

C2C exists to help more adults in Mississippi to return to college and finish. As more people return and earn degrees, it can have a profound impact on their families, communities, and Mississippi’s economy. Here is a closer look at some of the effects that degree attainment can have:
    • Better job options: state and local communities attract employers seeking an educated and highly skilled workforce.
    • Increased wages: a higher percentage of adults with well-paying jobs.
    • Increased self-sufficiency: decreased unemployment, underemployment, and the percentage of people relying on public assistance.
    • Improved outcomes for children: improvements in children’s physical & mental health, development, and school achievement as wages increase in communities.

The C2C program goes beyond merely helping adults complete their degrees. It strives to help participants recognize more opportunities, improve their lives, and provide brighter futures for themselves and their families!

Supporting the Institutions that Create Our Growth

C2C’s work also helps to create sustainability for Mississippi higher education institutions by increasing enrollments and graduation rates.

Hear from Graduates


• Educational Attainment Rates and National Ranking:  Lumina Foundation Stronger Nation Report & Mississippi Progress Report

• Some College, No Degree: NSCRC Some College, No Credential Student Outcomes Annual Progress Report – Academic Year 2020/21

• Positive Outcomes on Children Because of Increased Wages: Boston Fed The Downstream Benefits of Higher Incomes and Wages Report

Positive Attainment Trending: Lumina Foundation’s Stronger Nation project