Two members of the 230th class to graduate since the program began in 1967 set a precedent.
"I was unsure of what to expect when I came out here, but I am so thankful that they gave me the opportunity," said self-sponsored graduate Sam Howard.
"Self-sponsored graduates are setting the pace for other self-sponsored graduates that are coming in to the academy," said Donald Bryant.
Assistant director Thomas Tuggle said this is the first time the academy has allowed self-sponsored recruits, but it won't be the last.
"These two individuals were very successful and that's something we're going to continue," Tuggle said.
The reason is the statewide strain on some department to hire qualified officers.
"We decided to open up the doors for somebody who has the money, has the means, to pay for an education," said Tuggle.
Both Bryant, from Byhalia, and Howard, of Jackson, said they always knew they wanted to work in law enforcement.
Bryant is an electrical engineer and has traveled all over the Middle east for work. When he heard of this opportunity, he said he couldn't pass it up.
"If you have a real passion for it, it's worth every penny," said Bryant. "It's worth it."
It's the same for Howard, who has a background as a firefighter and was a criminal justice major in college.
For him, it was a sacrifice when he first heard the price tag of $3,000. But he says this is his calling.
"I have learned so much in the past 10 weeks and I am very grateful for it," Howard said.
The next training course starts in July and the next in September. To be a self-sponsored recruit, you may call 601-933-2100.