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North Dakota State creates a new scholarship to rival the free tuition program in Minnesota



Bismarck, North Dakota – A new program that will start next year would potentially deny Minnesota students who are qualified for free tuition in their home state. This is concerning higher education authorities, so North Dakota State University unveiled a new scholarship program on Thursday.

For the 2024–2025 academic year, the university is offering its Tuition Award Program. The North Star Promise initiative in Minnesota will launch in the fall of 2024. If a Minnesota resident’s household income is less than $80,000, it will pay for undergraduate tuition and fees at the state’s public post-secondary schools and tribal colleges after they have exhausted all other forms of financial help, including grants and scholarships.

David Cook, the president of North Dakota State University, has discussed the “catastrophic implications” of North Star Promise. For first-year Minnesota students, who account for about half of the student population, North Dakota State is the most popular choice among out-of-state universities. Minnesota is located directly over the Red River from the university located in Fargo.

Seinquis Leinen, senior director of strategic enrollment management at the university, attested that North Star Promise was the driving force for the creation of the Tuition Award Program.

Similar to North Star Promise, the new scholarship is accessible to first- and second-year students in North Dakota and Minnesota who meet the federal Pell Grant eligibility requirements and have a family income of no more than $80,000.

“We wanted to offer a similar program,” Leinen told The Associated Press. “To offer similar programs to students allows them to better analyze and explore their different options, and again, knowing that a lot of our students come from Minnesota, wanted them to be able to be aware of other options that are right in their neck of the woods and right on the other side of the border.”

She stated that “after all other gift aid is applied,” the scholarship will pay for the basic tuition and expenses for certain kids.

One thousand students should be qualified, according to Leinen. The NDSU Foundation will fund the program, which is projected to cost $3.5 million. She stated that the university will look into potential future funding for the scholarship.

Higher education, in the opinion of state authorities, is essential to solving North Dakota’s labor crisis. According to Leinen, 42% of Minnesotans and 82% of North Dakotans who graduate from North Dakota State choose to work in North Dakota for their first employment.

For the upcoming parliamentary session in 2025, Democratic state senator Tim Mathern is putting forth a workforce-focused forgiving student loan tuition program called “Dakota Promise.” He acknowledged the new scholarship from North Dakota State but stated that a “long-term solution” was required.

“We, in fact, need to do something about free tuition,” Mathern said. “However, we need to do it in a creative manner wherein we’re solving issues for the long term, not just a knee-jerk response to what Minnesota has done.”

The state’s Office of Higher Education estimates that in its first year, North Star Promise could serve between 15,000 and 20,000 Minnesotans.

According to the North Dakota University System, the Minnesota program may be available to about 1,400 Minnesota students attending five universities in eastern North Dakota.