The program provides financial assistance to students enrolled in qualifying career and technical programs at MnSCU two-year colleges so that students can complete the program within two years or less and find employment in a high-demand occupation. It was created by the 2015 Minnesota Legislature and will be implemented for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years as a pilot program.
Qualifying Occupational Programs
Click here to see a list of qualifying occupational programs offered by each MnSCU two-year college. Because this program listing is subject to change, students should check with the college to make sure the program is still offered. In order for the student to participate in the pilot program, the student must be admitted into and start the occupational program during fall term 2016.
Amount of Grant
The grant will cover any remaining tuition and general fee charges after the student's Federal Pell Grant and MN State Grant have been applied to the student's account. Program-specific fees and equipment are not covered. The grant is available for up to 72 semester credits, including any required developmental courses taken after admission to the occupational program.
Student Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for the grant, the student must:
- Begin enrollment during fall semester 2016 in a qualifying certificate, diploma, AS or AAS program at a MnSCU two-year college immediately following:
- Earning a high school diploma from a MN high school during the 2015-2016 academic year; or
- For those without a high school diploma, completing an Adult Basic Education program or passing a GED test as a Minnesota resident during the 2015-2016 academic year; or
- Completing a 12 or 24-month Americorps program during the 2015-2016 academic year that started immediately after high school graduation during an earlier academic year
- Meet the definition of MN resident used for state financial aid programs
- Have an adjusted gross income (or wages for non-filers) of $90,000 or less for the 2015 tax year
- For a student applying as a dependent student, parental income is used
- For a student applying as an independent student, student (and spouse's, if married) income is used
- Participate in free mentoring services throughout the student's academic program
- Have tuition and fee charges not fully covered by Pell and State Grants during fall semester 2016
Applying for the Grant
To apply for the initial grant for the 2016-2017 academic year, students must complete the 2016-2017 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is available in January 2016. Undocumented students should apply using the 2016-2017 MN Dream Act state financial aid application. Due to limited funding, students are advised to apply as early as possible, since applicants will be ranked by application date.
First Year Grant
A student must receive this grant during the fall term of 2016 in order to take part in the pilot program. The grant will be available for each term of the 2016-2017 academic year, including summer term 2017, provided the student has tuition and fee charges not covered by federal and state grants. The amount of this grant can change each term depending on the student's enrollment level, tuition and fees and the amount of the student's federal and state grants.
A student in a program requiring more than 30 semester credits (including any required developmental courses) must complete at least 30 credits during the 2016-2017 academic year to meet the conditions for grant renewal during the 2017-2018 academic year. Students enrolled in shorter programs must complete their programs during the 2016-2017 academic year.
Second Year Grant - Conditions for Renewal
The grant can be renewed for the 2017-2018 academic year if the student meets the following conditions:
- Submits a 2017-2018 FAFSA (or 2017-2018 MN Dream Act state financial aid application for undocumented students) and any other required documents in a timely manner
- Successfully completed at least 30 program credits during the 2016-2017 academic year, including summer term 2017
- Participated in required free mentoring services during the 2016-2017 academic year
- Making satisfactory academic progress and maintaining a GPA of at least 2.5 at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year and for each term of the 2017-2018 academic year
- Student's college certifies the student is on track to complete the program during the 2017-2018 academic year.
Required Mentoring Services
To support students throughout their academic programs, this pilot program requires recipients to participate in free mentoring services including, but not limited to:
- Communicating with the mentoring service throughout program participation
- Developing a personalized student success plan which includes
- Concrete steps towards program completion and job placement
- Identification of and contingency plans for potential obstacles to completion
- Making connections to on-campus resources and personal development opportunities
- Financial planning
The Minnesota Office of Higher Education has partnered with InsideTrack to provide one-on-one mentoring to the recipients of the Minnesota Occupational Grant. Our goal is to ensure that students make a successful transition to college and maintain eligibility for the grant.
What is InsideTrack?
InsideTrack works with colleges and universities to improve student and institutional success. Since 2001, they've mentored over one million students, empowering them to take ownership of their academic experiences, utilize campus resources, and target growth in specific skill-sets needed to enhance motivation, performance, and persistence.
What are the benefits of having an InsideTrack mentor?
Occupational Grant Mentors work with students on the educational experience as well as the bigger life picture and long-term goals, making sure that school and other priorities are balanced and students are set up to create success for themselves. Through regular interactions, the mentoring program is able to directly enhance academics and personal effectiveness by working on skills such as setting goals, managing time and priorities, navigating finances, and improving study habits.
How can I reach my mentor?
Mentors will begin contacting new students upon disbursement of the Occupational Grant (beginning as early as August 29th). Students can reach their assigned mentors by phone, e-mail, text messaging, and other media; mentors will provide contact information to students in the first phone meeting.
Who are the InsideTrack Mentors?
If you have questions about the MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program, please contact the Office of Higher Education or the financial aid director at your college. If you have questions about a particular occupational program, please contact the occupational program's director at your college.
Documents & Instructions
- MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program
- MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program Handout
- MnSCU Webinar on Inside Track Mentoring for Occupational Grant Pilot Program
- MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program Recorded Webinar for MnSCU Campuses January 20, 2016 [.wmv, 291 MB]
- PPT on MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program [.ppt, 5 MB]
- MnSCU Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program Webinar December 10, 2015 [.mp4, 227 MB]
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