Full 2-year Minnesota college grants still available


This column originally was published by ECM Publication:

Full 2-year Minnesota college grants still available

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Joe Nathan

Joe Nathan

A full, two-year tuition grant is still available for this year’s Minnesota high school graduates.

This is one of the best deals that 2016 high school graduates will ever encounter. It’s available at Anoka Technical College, and possibly at other two-year public colleges, for students whose families earn $90,000 or less.

At a time when many families are understandably concerned about college costs, this is a remarkable experiment created by the 2015 Minnesota Legislature.

Mary Jacobson, director of marketing and public relations for Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Anoka Technical College, told me recently that Anoka Tech still has some of the two-year “occupational grants” available for eligible students.

To apply, students must fill out the federal FAFSA form showing their family’s income. The grant will pay up to 100 percent of tuition costs for students taking courses in many technical fields. The state funds are applied after all other state and federal grants for which a student is eligible are used. It’s available for students who graduated from a Minnesota high school in 2016. Students who are eligible and interested should contact Jacobson at 763-433-1315.

I checked with nine other two-year public colleges. Each said that they had allocated or are in the process of allocating the two-year occupational grant funds available to them. However, in some cases there are no students on the “waiting list.” And some students who have been awarded the grants may have applied to more than one college. So it’s possible that some of the grant money will be available at other campuses.

Dakota County Technical College President Tim Wynes explained that Rosemount college received about $153,000. College staff are reviewing applications. Wynes anticipates that students will be notified by July 29 about whether they will receive occupational grants.

Tim Jacobson, director of financial aid at Hennepin Technical College, with campuses in Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie, explained that the school notified 26 students the first week of July that they will be receiving the occupational grant funds. They have allocated all funds provided to them and are waiting for confirmation from these students.

Steven Geller, director of media and public relations with Normandale Community College in Bloomington, explained that 43 students received the occupational grant and that about 40 are on a waiting list.

Steve Yang of North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park wrote that as of July 5, there were no students yet on the waiting list. So there may be opportunities for students who had not yet applied.

Shawn Reynolds, financial aid director at Pine Technical and Community College in Pine City, explained the college sent notices to seven students early in June that they had received the occupational grant. However, Reynolds added,“I do anticipate being able to award additional funds as we get closer to fall semester with students making adjustments to their schedules.”

Ginny Dobbs, manager of state financial aid programs at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education Office, has been overseeing the project. She told me that funds were allocated to each campus based on a formula that included how many students on their campus would have been eligible for the grants if they had been available in 2015. Dobbs also explained that her office plans to “contact campuses during fall term to see if any have excess funds that can be allocated to other campuses.”

Minnesota legislators decided to test what would happen when they expanded opportunities for students to enroll in occupation programs at the state’s public two-year colleges. It appears that there still are opportunities for students who want to participate. I’d encourage checking into it immediately if you are interested.

Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher, administrator and PTA president, is a former director and now senior fellow at the Center for School Change. Reactions are welcome at joe@centerforschoolchange.org.