The state of Minnesota has a lot to offer to its residents and visitors alike. It is home to 11,842 lakes – giving it the unofficial nickname of Land of 10,000 Lakes – where people can enjoy the water all year round. In the summers, you can fish, boat, swim, participate in water sports and more. Fun fact: waterskiing was invented in the state in 1922. People can even enjoy the water in the winters when it is frozen over with activities like hockey, ice skating, ice fishing and more.

Despite being a great state to enjoy the outdoors in, Minnesota residents can also enjoy great financial aid programs to help them be able to afford to attend in-state colleges and universities.

Some of the popular Minnesota college financial aid programs include the Minnesota State Grant, the Postsecondary Child Care Grant, the Minnesota Indian Scholarship and the Tuition Reciprocity Agreement Program.

Minnesota State Grant

The Minnesota State Grant is a program designed to assist students from low- to moderate-income families pay for educational expenses at eligible in-state colleges and universities.

To be eligible for the grant, a student must:

  • Be a Minnesota resident
  • Be a high school or secondary school graduate
  • Be at least 17 years old or older
  • Be enrolled as an undergraduate student in at least three credit hours at one of the 130 eligible Minnesota postsecondary institutions
  • Not be in default on a student loan
  • Not be more than 30 days behind on child support payments (if applicable)
  • Not yet have attended college for eight full-time semesters
  • Meet the school’s satisfactory academic progress
  • Demonstrate a financial need for funding
  • Be a full-time student (taking at least 15 credit hours per term) to receive a full amount of funding
    • If a student is less than a full-time student, their award amount will be pro-rated based on the amount of credit hours they are taking.
  • Complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually.

In order to apply for the grant, a student just needs to submit FAFSA annually; there is no separate application for the grant. The grant is also renewable as long as FAFSA is filed every academic year. A student can receive grant funding for up to six full-time semesters or nine full-time quarters.

The grant is handed out mostly based on a student’s estimated family contribution (EFC). During the 2020 Fiscal Year, 29% of students had family incomes below $20,000 and 39% of students had family incomes between $20,000 and $50,000.

The grant can be used to cover tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies and other educational expenses, though the only time a student will see the award amount is in the student’s award notice from their school’s financial aid office; the school’s financial aid office will allocate the grant’s funds accordingly.

On average, a student can receive around $2,600 per academic year from the grant. The minimum award a student can receive is $100 per academic year. The maximum award a student can receive can be up to $7,800 at a public, two-year Minnesota college or up to $12,300 at a private, four-year Minnesota college.

Postsecondary Child Care Grant

The Postsecondary Child Care Grant is designed to assist low-income students with young children so they can afford to pay for child care while the student attends college courses.

To be eligible for the grant, a student must:

  • Be a Minnesota resident
  • Have at least one child who is 12 years old or younger
  • Have a family size and household income within the designated estimated family contribution guidelines
  • Be attending an eligible Minnesota postsecondary institution
  • Be enrolled in one to 12 credit hours per term as an undergraduate student OR one to six credit hours per term as a graduate student
  • Not yet have earned a bachelor’s degree AND have received the grant for less than ten semesters OR have earned a bachelor’s degree AND received the grant for less than ten semesters while in a graduate or professional degree program
  • Complete and file FAFSA
  • Complete and submit a Postsecondary Child Care Grant application to the student’s school’s financial aid office
  • Not have defaulted on a student loan
  • Not be receiving funds from the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)

To apply for the grant, a student needs to submit FAFSA and their grant application. The amount a student receives from the grant is determined by a combination of the student’s estimated family contribution, the amount of needed day care hours to cover educational and work obligations, funding availability and the student’s enrollment status.

The maximum award amount is $6,500 per eligible child per academic year. The amount cannot exceed 40 hours of child care per week per child though.

Minnesota Indian Scholarship

The Minnesota Indian Scholarship is designed to help low-income Minnesota student residents who have Native American heritage afford to attend college.

To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must:

  • Be a Minnesota resident
  • Be one quarter or more of Native American heritage or be an enrolled member or citizen of a federally-recognized Native American tribe or be of Canadian First Nation heritage
  • Demonstrate a financial need for funding
  • Be enrolled in an eligible Minnesota postsecondary institution
  • Be enrolled at least as a three-quarter time undergraduate student or a half-time graduate student
    • If the student is an undergraduate student, they must be eligible for the federal Pell Grant or the Minnesota State Grant
  • Complete and file FAFSA
  • Complete and submit the Minnesota Indian Scholarship application
  • Complete and submit the Tribal Educational Funds application

To apply for the scholarship, a student must complete and submit the Minnesota Indian Scholarship application, FAFSA and complete and the Tribal Educational Funds application before July 1.

The scholarship is renewable and a student can receive funding for a lifetime maximum amount of ten annual academic awards. The maximum undergraduate award can be up to $4,000 per academic year and the maximum graduate award can be up to $6,000 per academic year.

There are some restrictions when it comes to the award. If a student is enrolled in less than a four-year degree program (associate degree, etc.), they are limited to receiving three annual awards (six semesters or nine quarters).

If a student is enrolled in a four-year degree program (bachelor’s degree), they are limited to receiving five annual awards (ten semesters or 15 quarters) including any awards previously earned while enrolled in an associate degree program.

If a student is enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program (Master’s degree, Doctoral degree), they are limited to receiving five annual awards (ten semesters or 15 quarters).

It is also important to note a student can only receive funding for one degree program per educational level and one terminal graduate degree.

Tuition Reciprocity Agreements

One of the most unique programs Minnesota has to offer is its Tuition Reciprocity Agreement Program. This program is a binding agreement that leads to Minnesota residents receiving lower non-resident tuition rates or eliminated tuition rates at eligible public colleges and universities in neighboring states.

The participating states are North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The Canadian Province of Manitoba is also a participant. The Iowa Lakes Community College in northwestern Iowa is also a limited participant.

The three main states in the agreement essentially cover all types of Minnesota students who would be attending eligible schools in the respective states: full-time, part-time, undergraduates, graduates, doctoral candidates, etc.

If a school charges all students the same tuition rates regardless of residency, then that school is not eligible for the program. If a student is participating in remote learning with a Wisconsin school, but is taking classes from Minnesota, they are also not eligible for the program. There may also be certain COVID-19-related exceptions for program participation in any of the states at the moment.

To apply to be part of the program, a student needs to:

  • Apply for admission to a reciprocity-eligible school
  • Apply for the Tuition Reciprocity Agreement Program online
    • Applications for the following academic year always become available during the current academic year’s spring term

A Minnesota resident-student does not need to formally apply for the program in Minnesota if:

  • The student is enrolled in an eligible North Dakota school within 12 months of graduating from a Minnesota high school
  • The student is enrolled in an eligible South Dakota school as the individual campuses will determine the student’s program eligibility
  • The student is enrolled in an eligible Wisconsin technical college as the student should then apply directly at their school instead

Participation in the program is renewable, though a student does not need to re-apply every academic year if they stay continuously enrolled in school. If a student is not enrolled in school for a 12-month period and then re-enrolls into school, they will have to re-apply for the program.

Major Minnesota Colleges and Universities

There are many amazing public colleges and universities and private colleges and universities in the North Star State. Some of the more popular schools include:

  • Bemidji State University in Bemidji (public)
  • Carleton College in Northfield (private)
  • Concordia College in Moorhead (private)
  • The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth (private)
  • Minnesota College of Art and Design in Minneapolis (private)
  • Minnesota State University – Mankato in Mankato (public)
  • Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona (private)
  • St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud (public)
  • Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall (public)
  • University of Minnesota Duluth in Duluth (public)
  • University of Minnesota Rochester in Rochester (public)
  • University of Minnesota (main campus) in Minneapolis (public)
  • University of St. Thomas in St. Paul (private)
  • Winona State University in Winona

Despite nearly 8.5% of the state’s total area being water, Minnesota residents can find great in-state colleges and universities to attend within the North Star State’s nearly 86,000 sq. miles of borders. The college financial aid programs the state offers its residents make it that much easier for them to afford to receive a higher education as well.