decorative banner image

Pilot Program Provides Free College for Qualifying Students



2016 graduating seniors eligible for one-time funding

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

Minnesota high school seniors heading to a state community or technical college next fall could get their tuition and general fees covered if they qualify for a new pilot program.

The Occupational Grant Pilot Program, signed into law by Governor Dayton last year, covers the cost of tuition and fees for many high-demand two-year programs at MnSCU campuses. Qualifying students will also receive mentoring services to help them successfully complete their program.

"This pilot program was designed with two benefits in mind: lower the cost of higher education for middle-income students, and help meet growing workforce needs in high demand areas," said Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE). "The pilot will also provide an opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of mentoring as a tool in helping students complete their postsecondary education."

The pilot program is focused on high-demand jobs, as identified by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Opportunity (DEED), so qualifying students are more likely to find employment upon completion, according to Pogemiller.

The pilot grant program will cover any remaining tuition and general fees after a student's Federal Pell Grant and Minnesota State Grant have been deducted. The grant is available for up to 72 semester credits, including any required developmental courses taken after admission to the occupational program. In order for students to participate in the pilot program, they must be admitted into and start the occupational program during fall term 2016. Students who receive funding under this program the first year must maintain a GPA of 2.5 and participate in the mentoring program to receive funding for the second year. At this time, the pilot is only funded for two years.

There is limited funding available, so students are encouraged to apply as early as possible. 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 now. Undocumented students should apply using the 2016-2017 MN Dream Act state financial aid application.

Find out more about the Occupational Grant Pilot Program and the qualifying programs.

If you have questions, please contact Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3202 or by email at

Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view.

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader