One million in scholarships are being made available as part of a new pilot program designed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) and Minnesota State to help adult students who started, but did not finish, a college education.
OHE is partnering on this pilot program, called MN Reconnect, with four Minnesota State colleges: Inver Hills Community College, Lake Superior College, Riverland Community College, and South Central College.
“Minnesotans who do not finish their college and career training programs often miss out on higher wages and better opportunities,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “I encourage all eligible Minnesotans, who are interested in completing their educations and trainings, to apply for assistance through the Reconnect Program. It is never too late! I also urge the Legislature to support my proposal to provide $1.4 million in additional funding for this important program, and give even more Minnesotans opportunities to complete their educations.”
An estimated 500 students completing a certificate, diploma, or associate degree will each receive a scholarship of up to $3,000 over the four-year pilot program, and they will receive campus-level staff support and other assistance for overcoming barriers to completion.
MN Reconnect is designed to support students who return to college to earn a credential of economic value after an absence of two or more years. The scholarships will be in addition to other grant assistance received by the student, including federal Pell Grants and Minnesota State Grants.
Scholarships will be available for Fall Semester 2018 to qualified students who have attended one of the four participating colleges but have not completed a certificate or degree.
“Adult students who have taken a break from their college education often face significant challenges in returning to college and finishing,” said Larry Pogemiller, OHE Commissioner. “This program is specifically designed to help them overcome these challenges by using financial incentives, addressing barriers, and providing one-on-one support so that they can complete their education and further their career while increasing their contribution to Minnesota’s workforce.”
The pilot program is made possible by financial and technical support from the Lumina Foundation and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO). The four Minnesota State colleges were selected to participate in the pilot through a competitive bid process and represent both greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities.
These colleges will direct outreach to qualified students, assist them with the re-enrollment process, and provide support services to increase student success such as intensive advising to help students select and plan their degree program.