Below are answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the new North Star Promise Scholarship program, which will begin implementation in Fall 2024. If you have any questions that are not listed below, please feel free to contact us at NorthStarPromise.OHE@state.mn.us.
If you are a member of the media and have questions about the program, please email OHE Director of Communications Keith Hovis, firstname.lastname@example.org
When parents are divorced, separated or never married, and do not live together, only one parent must complete the FAFSA/Minnesota Dream Act application.
For 2024-2025, the first year of North Star Promise, this will be the parent who provides more financial support to the student. Starting in the 2024-2025 academic year, the FAFSA/Minnesota Dream Act will no longer take into account which household the student lived with most. If the parent who provides more financial support has remarried as of the date the FAFSA/Minnesota Dream Act is filed, the stepparent’s income, assets and dependents must also be reported.
Dependent students will have the AGI of their parent(s), and stepparent if applicable, considered for the program’s family AGI threshold of below $80,000. The AGI of dependent students will not be considered.
State financial aid programs, including the North Star Promise, follow the federal definitions for what makes a student independent or dependent in terms of financial aid. You can review what makes a student either dependent or independent here.
The North Star Promise program will begin the 2024-2025 academic year, and the age question on the FAFSA/Minnesota Dream Act application will ask: Were you born before January 1, 2001?
Students who can answer yes to that question will be considered independent and not required to report parental income or assets on the application and will only have their own Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) considered. If the student also happens to be married, the AGI of the spouse will also be considered.
The FAFSA/Minnesota Dream Act application will ask: Are you married as of today? If you are married on the day you file your application, then you will need to report the income and assets for your spouse. Independent, married students will have the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of both the student and spouse considered for program eligibility. To be eligible, the student and spouse's combined family AGI must be below $80,000.
Yes! As long as you meet the eligibility criteria, the North Star Promise program will be available to you to help you earn your baccalaureate degree. However, students who already have earned a baccalaureate degree are ineligible for the program.
The limit on up to 60 credits for the completion of a certificate or an associate degree and the limit on up to 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree is set in law. The law, as written, does not allow for exceptions or waivers for programs that exceed the standard program lengths of 60 credits for an associate degree and 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree.
Before self-selecting out of options, we would encourage you to speak with the Admissions Office at a four-year institution and explain your situation. Your assumption may not be true. However, to answer this question, as long as all eligibility criteria are met, the law does not prohibit students who have already received an Associate Degree from receiving funds under North Star Promise as they pursue a second Associate Degree.
Yes, North Star Promise will consider the cost of tuition and required fees for study abroad in the award calculation; however, in order to be considered, the program’s tuition and fees must be charged to the student by the eligible institution. Third party study abroad tuition charges will not be considered in the award calculation.
Unlike the Minnesota Future Together Grant, a previous Office of Higher Education program, the North Star Promise is not program- or major-specific. Also, awards are not prioritized based on specific fields, trades or degrees. You must meet all eligibility criteria, including be enrolled in a program or course of study that applies to a degree, diploma, or certificate at an eligible institution.
The program criteria of a family adjusted gross income below $80,000 is set in statutory law based on the median family income in the state of Minnesota. Unfortunately, there is not a gradually reducing benefit for those over the threshold. So, yes, in a sense it is an “all or nothing” as you describe it.
However, if a family has experienced a change in income, that can be considered by the financial aid office where the student enrolls. For example, the 2024-2025 financial aid application asks about income from 2022. If a family experiences a change in income, sometimes called a special circumstance, the family can ask the financial aid office for a professional judgement to consider 2023 income, rather than 2022. Also, while North Star Promise does not have a reduced benefit or award for AGIs over the threshold, you may qualify for other federal, state or school-based financial aid that can help cover expenses and should still complete either the FAFSA or Minnesota Dream Act Application.
Dependent students will have the AGI of their parent(s), and stepparent if applicable, considered for the program’s family AGI threshold of below $80,000. The AGI of dependent students will not be considered. The first year of the program is the 2024-2025 academic year and the corresponding FAFSA or Minnesota Dream Act application will ask about prior, prior year Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). In other words, the AGI from 2022.
Yes, your college or university will treat your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) as $0 and you will be considered for the award.
There is not a GPA requirement per se; however, in order to continue to be eligible for North Star Promise from term to term, students must meet their school’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards. In other words, you have to earn good enough grades, and complete enough classes (credits, hours, etc.), to keep moving toward successfully completing your degree or certificate in a time period that’s acceptable to your school. You can read more about Satisfactory Academic Progress here.
No. Eligible institutions are all Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, all University of Minnesota campuses and all Tribal Colleges. However, an institution may offer programs that are not eligible for Federal Title IV Aid and Minnesota financial aid. Typically, this is because the program length is too short to meet requirements for federal and state financial aid. The intent of the North Star Program is for eligible students to receive gift aid to cover the remaining tuition and required fees that other sources of federal, state, institutional and private aid does not cover.