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Paying for College

Think college is too expensive for you? Don't rule it out just because of costs. Financial aid is available for most students.

Going to college is an investment in your future. It's also a way to get the skills and education you need for a good career. Although college costs are increasing, financial aid is available for many who need it.

The cost to attend college for a full year is more than tuition alone. There are additional room and board, books and supplies, personal and transportation expenses. All Minnesota State colleges and universities provide opportunities to earn an affordable degree while keeping college debt levels as low as possible.

Most schools expect you to pay a share of your education costs. The cost to attend usually includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. Your financial need is the difference between this total cost at a particular school and the amount you can reasonably contribute.

Most students receive a financial aid package that includes at least one of the three types of aid: grants and scholarships, loans, or work study.

Types of Financial Aid

  • Grants and scholarships are awards you don't have to pay back.

    Grants usually come from the government. Common grants are the Federal Pell Grant, Minnesota State Grant, and the Alliss Opportunity Grant Program.

    Scholarships can come from a school, community group, business, or the government. They're awarded based on financial need, athletic merit, academic performance, or other ability. You will find out if you qualify for a Federal Pell Grant when you apply for financial aid. The financial aid office at your chosen college can help you search for scholarships that fit you. Ask the school if there are funds specifically for people with a criminal conviction. See the Other Resources at the end of this page for online tools to help you locate a scholarship.
  • Loans are borrowed funds you have to repay with interest, usually after completing school. There are several different types with different interest rates and rules. Loans can come from the government or from private financial institutions. These include Stafford, Perkins, PLUS, and SELF Loans.
  • Federal Work Study provides a part-time job while you are in school. The program is administered by participating schools. The types of jobs vary. You may work in the cafeteria, tutoring other students, in an office on campus, or off campus for a private employer.

Paying for Continuing Education

You can find short non-credit continuing education courses at many colleges. These courses will help you build basic skills or develop industry recognized training that will help you get a job. You cannot get a federal loan to pay for non-credit courses. However, there may be some funds available to help you. In Minnesota, contact your local CareerForce center to find out if you qualify for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity (WIOA) or other types of funds to help you pay for short-term training.

Applying for Financial Aid
The most important thing to remember about financial aid it that you have to apply for it. Applying for admission to a college isn't enough. You'll need to complete a form called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.


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