North Dakota is a large state, clocking in at 70,704 sq. miles of total area. It may not be the most populous state around, but it is home to great natural sights such as the Badlands, Theodore Roosevelt National Park and White Butte. There are also manmade sights to take in like the International Peace Garden, which was created in 1932 and stands at the U.S.-Canada border. This garden represents the pledge made by both countries to never go to war with each other.

The state also pledges to help its college-bound residents afford to attend in-state colleges with the financial aid programs it offers. These financial aid programs include the North Dakota State Grant, the North Dakota Scholars Program, the North Dakota Indian Scholarship and the Academic, the Career & Technical Education, and the North Dakota Scholarships.

North Dakota State Grant

The North Dakota State Grant is a need-based award given to first-time undergraduate students attending in-state colleges.

To be eligible for the grant, a student must:

  • Be a North Dakota resident
  • Graduate from a North Dakota high school
  • Be a first-time undergraduate student
  • Be enrolled at least as a quarter-time student
  • Be enrolled at an eligible North Dakota postsecondary institution
    • This includes state-accredited public, tribal or private institutions that offer at least two-year degree programs.
  • Be enrolled in an eligible program of study
  • Complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually

The award is renewable and a student can receive it for up to eight semesters (or 12 quarters) of full-time undergraduate study or until the student has earned their bachelor’s degree, whichever comes first.

A student can receive up to $1,100 per semester or $733 per quarter from the grant, though this is all dependent upon the student’s enrollment status.

North Dakota Scholars Program

The North Dakota Scholars Program is a merit-based program that provides qualifying students a full-ride to attend an eligible in-state college.

To be eligible for the program, a student must:

  • Be a North Dakota resident
  • Be a North Dakota high school student who scores at or above the 95th percentile among those who took the ACT or SAT prior to July 1 in the calendar year preceding the student’s college enrollment
  • Be enrolled to attend an eligible North Dakota postsecondary institution
    • This includes state-accredited public, tribal or private institutions that offer at least two-year degree programs.
  • Be attending college to earn their first bachelor’s degree

There is no separate application that needs to be submitted for the program. If a student qualifies for the program, they will be alerted about it during their senior year of high school.

Students will receive awards from the program in descending rank order based on test scores until funds run out or there are no more applicants to receive funding. Since funds are limited, there is a chance not all qualifying students will receive an award.

The award from the program will be for the full tuition amount equal to the North Dakota-resident undergraduate tuition rate at the student’s selected school, but will not exceed the highest resident undergraduate tuition rate at any school in the North Dakota University System.

Funding from the program is renewable and a student can receive it for up to eight semesters or 12 quarters of full-time undergraduate study or until the student has earned their bachelor’s degree, whichever comes first.

North Dakota Indian Scholarship

The North Dakota Indian Scholarship is a merit-based and need-based award that goes to Native American students to help them afford to receive a college education.

To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must:

  • Be a North Dakota resident
  • Be an enrolled member of a federally recognized Native American tribe
  • Be accepted for admission to an eligible North Dakota institution of higher learning or state vocational education program
  • Be a full-time student
  • Earn a minimum cumulative 2.00 GPA
  • Submit a North Dakota Indian Scholarship application annually
    • The application must be submitted by July 15 every year for priority consideration.
    • Supporting documents in the application that need to be turned in include the student’s:
      • Verification of tribal enrollment
      • Most recent transcript showing the student’s cumulative GPA
      • Needs Analysis Form
      • Certifications of admittance and residency
    • Complete and submit FAFSA annually
    • Be enrolled in a certificate, associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree program
    • Meet GPA requirements:
      • To receive need-based funding, a student must have a cumulative GPA between 2.00 to 3.499.
      • To receive merit-based funding, a student must have a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher.

Funding is limited, though a student can receive up to $2,000 per academic year from the scholarship. A student can also receive up to six academic years of funding for full-time study.

The Academic, the Career & Technical Education, and the North Dakota Scholarships

There are three additional scholarships college-bound North Dakota high school students can apply to receive:  the North Dakota Academic Scholarship, the North Dakota Career & Technical Education Scholarship (CTE), and the North Dakota Scholarship.

Students can only earn one of the scholarships at a time, but these three were developed to encourage and reward North Dakota high school students for taking challenging coursework in preparation for attending a North Dakota college or university.

To be eligible for any one of these scholarships, a student must:

  • Be a North Dakota resident
  • Have taken and/or completed required high school coursework
  • Attend an eligible North Dakota postsecondary institution which includes public, private, tribal or proprietary institutions with a physical presence in the state
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative 2.75 GPA
  • Maintain degree program progress requirements
    • This means the student earns a minimum number of credits before qualifying for their next disbursement payment.
  • Complete and submit a North Dakota Scholarship application
    • This application will be submitted to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction

Any of these three scholarships must be used within six years of the student’s high school graduation. A student can receive up to $6,000 from any of the scholarships. This means a student can receive up to $750 per semester, up to $500 per quarter and/or clock-hour term.

Major North Dakota Colleges and Universities

North Dakota may not have a plethora of urban areas jammed into its state lines, but it does have some great colleges and universities in the Peace Garden State.

Some of the popular schools include:

  • Dickinson State University in Dickinson (public)
  • Mayville State University in Mayville (public)
  • Minot State University in Minot (public)
  • North Dakota State University in Fargo (public)
  • University of Jamestown in Jamestown (private)
  • University of Mary in Bismarck (main campus) (private)
  • University of North Dakota in Grand Forks (public)
  • Valley City State University in Valley City (public)

North Dakota residents should be ecstatic to know they can attend college in their home state and be able to take advantage of great financial aid programs in order to help them afford to do so.