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Minnesota Receives $735,000 Federal Grant to Boost College Readiness through Enhanced Tools and Training for Counselors




Contact: Sandy Connolly, Director of Communications
Office of Higher Education
(651) 259-3902

Students, Parents to get more Support and Information to Plan for College

Minnesota high school and middle school counselors will have new electronic tools, information and training to help them identify, counsel and communicate with students who need assistance to stay on track for college success, thanks to a $735,000 federal grant awarded to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

Funding for the grant was authorized in 2007 as part of a $66 million provision of the federal Omnibus Higher Education Act to improve college access. Each state had an opportunity to apply for the funds, and nearly all states received a grant.

"For too many students, the critical barrier to college admission and success is a lack of academic preparation in high school," said Susan Heegaard, director of the Office of Higher Education, the state agency coordinating the grant activities in Minnesota. "We want to help build the capacity of counselors and educators to use the latest counseling tools available so they can identify students who need help and provide them with timely support."

The grant will be targeted specifically to schools serving large numbers of low-income students and students from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education. In an era when a college education is increasingly considered essential for career opportunities beyond minimum wage, Minnesota will use the funds to encourage high school students to be ready academically, socially and financially for college.

There are three parts to Minnesota's college-readiness initiative:

  1. Naviance Counseling Software for Minnesota Schools
    • The grant will support the purchase, licensing, and installation of Naviance software for 300 secondary schools not currently using a comprehensive online counseling software program. New developments in online counseling software enable educators to evaluate student progress, communicate with students and parents, review and send transcripts, provide planning tools and personal checklists, and to quickly identify and address student academic problems in a systematic way.

  2. Professional Development for Counselors
    • For schools already using Naviance online student records and counseling tools, the grant will support the creation of user groups and expanded training for more staff and use of additional features of the software.

    • The grant will support professional development opportunities for counselors to increase their understanding and use of comprehensive guidance programs and effective new methods to guide students toward postsecondary readiness and completion. With the large and growing caseloads for school counselors across the state, counselors will strengthen their capacity to work with teachers to effectively reach all students with clear and consistent college planning assistance.

    • The grant will support regional workshops held by the Minnesota Department of Education for counselors and educators to increase their understanding and use of data collected through school testing so that they are able to use that data to guide students toward postsecondary readiness and program completion.

  3. Community Outreach
    • The grant will fund new training for educators, community leaders, counselors and others to build their capacity to present college access material to families across the state. With a focus on low-income communities and communities of color, parent presentations will be developed and given in English and other languages to ensure that parents understand the opportunities presented by college and financial aid.

    • Financial aid events in targeted communities to support community implementation of college preparation and financial aid/ Free Application for Federal Student Aid workshops for low-income, first generation students and families.

The Office of Higher Education is working with the Minnesota Department of Education and other partners to offer these opportunities to counselors, educators, students and their families.

School staff and counselors interested in learning more about the Naviance software licensing and training opportunities or other professional development opportunities for the 2008-2009 academic year may visit

The Office of Higher Education is a cabinet-level state agency providing students with financial aid programs and information to help them gain access to postsecondary education. The agency serves as the state's clearinghouse for data, research and analysis on postsecondary enrollment, financial aid, funding and trends.

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