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Low-income students get tuition-and-fees guarantee

The University's Founders Oppportunity Program will now cover tuition and fees for all Pell-eligible Minnesota students

By Deane Morrison

February 14, 2006; updated February 22

A ray of light pierced the clouds of rising tuition and fees last week when the University expanded its Founders Opportunity Program to cover transfer students as well as qualified incoming freshmen. Once the program has been fully phased in, the University will match all Pell grants to students from Minnesota and provide additional assistance from state, private, and University funds to cover their tuition and fees.

McGuire grants

The William W. and Nadine M. McGuire Family Foundation recently announced grants to support innovative programs to prepare students for college success and help them gain access to the school of their choice. The McGuire grants are expected to reach $4 million in support for the U. At the University, McGuire funds will create a five-year pilot program to ensure that students with the most significant need receive funding to cover 90 percent of the total cost of their attendance. Elsewhere, the funds will support Admission Possible, an organization to help make college possible for motivated and economically disadvantaged students, and LearningWorks at Blake, a program that works with sixth and seventh grade Minneapolis students to improve their academic performance. For more information, see the news release.

"It's an important step to ensure the University maintains its accessibility and affordability to students of low and modest means by extending it to kids who begin their college careers in community college," Vice President for University Relations Linda Thrane told a WCCO-TV audience on February 12. "We're already helping about 175 students, and we figure over the next three years we'll be able to benefit 4,500 students." Students of color are expected to comprise more than 30 percent of the recipients. Freshmen are eligible for four years of support under the program, and transfer students will have two years of eligibility. It is expected to help a majority of Minnesota students from families earning less than $50,000 a year. The federal Pell Grant is the largest of the federal grant programs available to students who demonstrate need as determined by their Free Application for Federal Students Aid (FAFSA). The maximum Pell grant is $4,050. Tuition and fees on the Twin Cities campus total $8,902 this year, and the total cost of living and attending the University is estimated at around $18,000 annually. Therefore, the program will cover up to about half a student's expenses. The program will be in full swing, covering all eligible undergraduates on all campuses, in 2008-09. The University has also made it a priority to increase support for students from all income levels. The $150 million Promise of Tomorrow Scholarship drive, announced by Bruininks in 2004, will help. Nearly 6,000 students now receive merit- and need-based scholarships from private sources.