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Pawlenty Proposes Free College Tuition for Top Students




Released by Governor Tim Pawlenty's Office
June 27, 2006
Contact: Brian McClung, Office of the Governor, (651) 296-0001

Pawlenty Proposes Free College Tuition for Top Students
ACHIEVE program will reward top 25 percent, emphasize science and math

St. PaulUnder a landmark new program proposed by Governor Tim Pawlenty today, all Minnesota high school students who graduate in the top 25 percent of their class or post a comparable ACT score will attend their first two years of public college for free. Students' third and fourth years of college will also be free if they major in a math or science field.

Governor Pawlenty said the program, called ACHIEVE, is "designed to encourage all high school students to attain good grades, keep the best and brightest high school graduates at home in Minnesota colleges and universities, and increase the number of Minnesota college graduates with strategic math and science degrees. ACHIEVE will give Minnesota students a compelling incentive to study hard and it rewards them with free college."

Under the Governor's proposal, students in families with annual adjusted gross income at $150,000 or below would be eligible. ACHIEVE students will be required to attend college full-time and maintain at least a B average each year they are in college.

The State of Minnesota will pay the balance of tuition and required fees at a public college or university after Federal Pell Grants, Minnesota State Grants and private scholarships have been applied. Federal Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students with family incomes up to approximately $50,000. Minnesota State Grants help students from low- and moderate-income families pay for educational expenses at eligible Minnesota colleges or universities.

Governor Pawlenty said he will include ACHIEVE in his next budget proposal to the legislature. The program is estimated to cost approximately $112 million in the next biennium (FY08-09).

Tuition for full-time students ranges from an average of $3,825 per year at a Minnesota community or technical college to an average of $4,921 per year at a state university. Tuition and fees at the University of Minnesota is approximately $9,400 per year.

"Rigorous and relevant learning is a key to Minnesota's success," Governor Pawlenty said. "The ACHIEVE program will inspire academic excellence and make careers in science and math more attractive at a time when those careers are in higher demand than ever."

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education will administrator the new program. Students who graduate from high school in 2007 and enroll in college for the 2007-08 school year will be the first class eligible.

ACHIEVE stands for Academic Competitiveness Highlighting Individual Excellence and Valuing Education.

Projected Minnesota High School Graduates
YearTotalTop 25 percent

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