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Free college tuition program starting in 2024

Minnesotas new state flag
Minnesota’s new state flag

The North Star Promise (NSP) Scholarship program is a new last-dollar grant for residents of Minnesota attending public, in-state, and undergraduate colleges or universities. For those who qualify, it covers the full cost of tuition and fees after other scholarships and grants are applied, but not the cost of books, food, transportation, or other living costs. 

Starting in fall 2024, the scholarship is for those who have a family income of less than $80,000 and are going to any Minnesota State college or university, any University of Minnesota campus, or any Minnesota Tribal college. 

“Minnesota is one of the only states to offer something like this. I think it is a really good way to ensure that students who potentially come from underrepresented communities have the opportunity to pursue higher education. It is a really good option for students who are independent (over 24) or students whose families meet that requirement,“ Director of TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) for Saint Paul College Mela Shah said.

“We estimate this program will impact 15,000-20,000 students in their first academic year,” the Minnesota Office of Higher Education stated. 

To apply for this scholarship, students need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Minnesota Dream Act application.

“It is a little bit of a misnomer that it is free college tuition; the Pell Grant is applied first if you are eligible, then the North Star Promise goes into effect… It is essentially gap funding for students who are Pell-eligible,” Shah said.

The intention is to persuade more Minnesota students to stay in-state for college and reduce racial disparities by making higher education more affordable. Minnesota keeps losing students to out-of-state colleges, and lawmakers hope that it will encourage students to stay in Minnesota. 

“Students can find out more about the NSP program by visiting the Office of Higher Education website or going to the College and Career Center’s (CCC) open hours.” CCC coordinator Ms. Hauschild said. 

To find out more about the NSP program, visit:

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    BBMay 2, 2024 at 1:31 pm

    Really interesting article. Thanks for the heads up!