Minnesota lawmakers discussed a “free-college-for-all” proposal, but settled for a pilot program in May. That means that starting with the Class of 2016, the state will provide free rides to a about 1,600 students in high-demand technical college programs.
The two-year, $8.5 million pilot program is designed to cover tuition and fees for recent high school graduates enrolled in job-skills training programs at public two-year colleges.
At a savings of more than $5,000 a year, students can acquire the skills of the in-demand careers in the state, including in the fields of agriculture, manufacturing and computer science. The benefit, which comes after federal aid, will be distributed in a first-come first-served basis and families with household incomes of $90,000 or less are urged to apply.
Students must earn at least 30 program credits by the end of the first academic year (including summer term) and maintain satisfactory academic progress with a 2.5 GPA at the end of the first year.
In addition, the participating colleges must assign mentors to work with and provide encouragement to participating students. The results will likely be a determinant whether the program will expand in the future.