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Minnesota Receives $1.5 Million Federal Grant to Increase College Access




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

Minnesota's middle and and high school students will receive greater support to help them prepare for and stay on track for college success, thanks to a $1.5 million federal grant awarded to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education this fall. This is the third consecutive year Minnesota has been awarded a grant for this purpose.

Minnesota's grant was part of $141 million awarded to states this fall, based on a population formula. With a goal of helping states produce more college graduates by 2020, funding for these grants was approved by Congress in March 2010 as part of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.

"Within 10 years, about 70 percent of all the jobs in Minnesota will require some form of postsecondary education, whether it's a short-term certificate program or something more," said David Metzen, Director for the Office of Higher Education. "This grant will give schools and community organizations a boost in helping more students get on the path to postsecondary education."

With 2010 funding, Minnesota's College Access Challenge Grant activities will focus on:

  1. Enhancing the college planning and advising capacity in middle and high schools by counselors so that more students receive clear and consistent counseling regarding college planning and career preparation;
  2. Increasing the number of low-income students and families who have a working knowledge of postsecondary education opportunities, planning for postsecondary education and financial aid; and
  3. Increasing the number of low-income K-12 students who have the opportunity to participate in academic enrichment activities to prepare for college admission and success.

The Office of Higher Education is working with the Minnesota Department of Education, professional organizations and community partners to provide opportunities for school counselors, students and their families as dictated by the federal grant.

The components of Minnesota's grant include:

Support for School Counselors

Provide site licensing and training for schools to implement college, career and course planning software through Naviance.

Provide peer group user sessions and mentoring networks for successful implementation of Naviance in schools to improve counselor to student communication and facilitate the college planning process.

Data and assessment training and technical assistance for school counselors to increase understanding and use of student assessment data.

Community Outreach

Events on college access and success for low-income, first generation students and families through a series of informational sessions planned and implemented by the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership.

Support financial aid administrators who deliver presentations on paying for college to high schools and community groups across the state.

Targeted outreach to the African American and Latino communities regarding academic achievement, college planning, postsecondary access and college financing.

Student Engagement

Support participation of low-income students in summer academic enrichment programs by enabling approved programs to subsidize participation for students meeting low-income criteria.

Support participation of students attending 11 urban schools in college tours and after school tutoring by the College Corp. The 11 schools are those with staff funded by the federal GEAR UP program who support students throughout the year with college access information and programming.

Expand and support the state's Intervention for College Attendance Program, which awards competitive grants to community-based college access programs designed to increase high school graduation, college participation and success for low-income students.

The funding was first made available in September 2010 and is only pledged by the federal government for one year. 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.

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