Getting a college education is one of the most important investments you'll make in your life. But with the increasingly high costs of tuition, figuring out how to pay for your education can be discouraging -- or just downright scary.
Along with aid from the U.S. federal government, you'll want to check out the variety of grant and loan repayment programs available directly from the state of Minnesota.
Minnesota's Office of Higher Education (OHE) administers the state's financial aid programs, including loan repayment programs, state scholarships, grants, and other state-financed programs. These include:
Minnesota State Grant Program
This is the largest financial aid program administered by the state. It awards up to $150 million in need-based grants to Minnesota residents attending eligible colleges, universities, and career schools in Minnesota.
SELF Loan Administration
SELF stands for Student Educational Loan Fund. The SELF Program is a long-term, low-interest loan that can be used for eligible schools. Undergraduate students may borrow up to $7,500 per year; graduate students may borrow up to $9,000 per year (including any undergraduate SELF debt). The SELF Loan is available only after you seek other sources of federal, state, school and private aid.
Minnesota State Work Study Program
In this program, you can work either on or off campus, and this employment can be applied to school expenses. This program is available only to residents of Minnesota. It's awarded based on your financial need, as determined by the federal needs analysis (which requires you to complete the FAFSA).
Postsecondary Child Care Grant Program
This grant helps pay for child care if you are attending school and have children under 12. The grant is worth up to $2,600 per child. To be eligible, you must attend a public or private nonprofit college, be enrolled at least half-time, and meet other requirements.
Minnesota Indian Scholarship Program
This scholarship is available to Minnesotans who are at least one-fourth American Indian. It's worth up to $4,000 per year for undergraduate studies and $6,000 per year for graduate studies.
Minnesota GI Bill Program
The Minnesota GI Bill provides educational financial aid to Minnesota veterans and service members who served after September 11, 2001, and to the children and spouses of veterans who are deceased or severely disabled. The maximum MN GI Bill award per fiscal year (July 1- June 30) is $3,000.
Public Safety Officer's Survivor Grant
This grant is awarded to children or spouses of public safey officers in Minnesota who were killed in the line of duty.
See the OHE website for more information on these or other Minnesota financial aid programs.
All students should apply for aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA. This form is the gateway to Stafford, PLUS, and Perkins loans; Pell grants; and work study awards. Most schools have their own financial aid applications in addition to the FAFSA. It's a good idea to check with a school's financial aid department about specific procedures and deadlines, as they vary at all institutions