Fri, 08 Dec 2023

BISMARCK, North Dakota: In response to potentially losing Minnesota students eligible for free tuition in their home state under a new program starting from next year, North Dakota State University has announced a new scholarship program.

The university's Tuition Award Program will be launched for the 2024-2025 school year, while Minnesota's North Star Promise program begins in the fall term in 2024.

After eligible undergraduates who have used other sources of financial assistance, such as grants and scholarships, the Tuition Award Program will cover their tuition and fees at the state's public post-secondary schools and tribal colleges.

The new scholarship is available to North Dakota and Minnesota first- and second-year students eligible for the federal Pell Grant and whose family income is US$80,000 or less, nearly identical to North Star Promise.

North Dakota State University President David Cook said North Star Promise had "catastrophic implications" for the state.

Seinquis Leinen, the university's senior director of strategic enrollment management, said the Tuition Award Program was launched in response to North Star Promise.

"We wanted to offer a similar program," she added, noting that the scholarship will cover those students' base tuition and fees "after all other gift aid is applied."

Some 1,000 students are expected to be eligible for the program, estimated to cost $3.5 million, covered by the NDSU Foundation, and the university will explore future funding for the scholarship, Leinen further said.

Eighty-two percent of North Dakotans and 42 percent of Minnesotans who graduate from North Dakota State pursue their first job in North Dakota, Leinen stressed.

Democratic state Sen. Tim Mathern commended North Dakota State's new scholarship but stressed a "long-term solution" was required.

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

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