Potentially life-changing college scholarships for youth and adults


The following column originally appeared in several APG of East Central Minnesota newspapers during September, 2022, including the Morrison County Record.

Life changing college scholarships for youth and adults


There’s lots of news about student debt cancellation, but not nearly as much about two Minnesota programs that provide potentially life-changing opportunities. They’re available not only for young people, but also for some adults. As of late August, “substantial funds are still available for both programs,” according to Keith Hovis, communications director for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. It’s something families may want to check on.

Minnesota’s Future Together Scholarships provide opportunities at Minnesota’s two- and four-year public colleges and universities for people who want to prepare for careers in any of many “high need” fields. These include health care, business, plumbing, electricity, welding, auto service, education, software development, law enforcement, firefighting and public administration. This is only a partial list. Not all of these programs are available at every public college or university campus. Much more information is available here.

One of the unusual features of these scholarships is that they are available for low-income adults, not just young people. Part-time students also are eligible for these scholarships. According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (MOHE), these scholarships are available not only to young people entering college for the first time, but also people “returning to college and have not been enrolled in the last three semesters.” Funds cover tuition and fees, but not books, housing or other expenses. The grants range from $100 to $15,400.

MOHE explained that grants are available for people seeking a “credential, diploma, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree.” Funds are not available for graduate programs.

Who’s eligible? Again, according to MOHE, people who:

  • “Have a Family Adjusted Gross Income of $100,000 or less and have worked in a critical industry at least part time between March 1, 2020 – December 31, 2021, or received unemployment benefits during that same time period or
  • Have a Family Adjusted Gross Income of $50,000 or less.”

The Fostering Independence program is a new, unique opportunity for Minnesotans under age 27 who have been in the Minnesota Foster Care System any time after their 13th birthday. These grants can be used not only at all Minnesota public colleges and universities, but also at some private colleges and universities. The Legislature responded to suggestions from Hoang Murphy and members of a group he directs, Foster Advocates (www.fosteradvocates.org) when crafting this program. More information about the scholarship is available here.

Hoang Murphy

The first step for either program is to fill out a “FAFSA form” or a Minnesota Dreamer’s Application.

The single best advice I can offer is this: If you’re interested in either of these programs, please review the MOHE website for more information.

College debt presents huge challenges. The Future Together and Fostering Independence scholarships offer significant opportunities to avoid major college/university debt.

Joe Nathan, Ph.D., formerly a Minnesota public school teacher, administrator and PTA president, directs the Center for School Change. Reactions welcome: joe@centerforschoolchange.org or @joenathan9249 on Twitter.