North Star Promise at M State
M State is about to get even more affordable.
M State has one of the lowest tuition rates in the state, and thanks to generous grant, scholarship and sponsorship programs, more than half of all M State students attend tuition-free. Now, a new state scholarship program stands to improve that affordability factor even more.
Beginning in fall 2024, the North Star Promise Scholarship program will create a tuition- and fee-free pathway to higher education for eligible Minnesota residents at eligible institutions, of which M State is one (see complete list below). A "last-dollar" program, North Star Promise Scholarships cover the balance of tuition and fees remaining after other scholarships, grants, stipends and tuition waivers have been applied.
The North Star Promise Scholarship program is intended to:
- Help stabilize enrollment at Minnesota State system colleges and universities;
- Serve as an economic driver for Minnesota by educating qualified workers who are much needed to fill vacancies in the state's labor force;
- Create a viable higher education path for Minnesota residents who may have previously thought education was not a possibility for them.
The program is estimated to impact 15,000-20,000 students statewide in the first academic year.
Eligible students must:
All Minnesota public higher education institutions and Tribal Colleges are eligible.
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 the requirements for federal and state financial aid.
- *What does family Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) mean?
Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) information comes from the Federal 1040 Income Tax Return. The first year of the North Star Promise Scholarship program is the 2024-2025 academic year and the corresponding FAFSA or Minnesota Dream Act application asks about prior year AGI. In other words, the AGI from 2022. This can be found on line 11 of the 1040.
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. When parents are divorced, separated or never married, and do not live together, the parent who provides more financial support to the student should be the parent of record for the FAFSA or Minnesota Dream Act. This is the parent whose income will be reviewed when determining eligibility for North Star Promise. If the parent who provides more financial support has remarried as of the date the FAFSA or Minnesota Dream Act is filed, the stepparent’s AGI will also be taken into account when determining eligibility.
Independent students will have the AGI of the student considered for program eligibility. If the student is married, the student and spouse's combined AGI must be below $80,000 in order to be eligible for the North Star Promise Scholarship. You can review what makes a student either dependent or independent here.
There is no additional application beyond the FAFSA or Minnesota Dream Act Application. M State will assess your eligibility on a term-by-term basis and award North Star Promise Scholarships to all eligible students.
Note: The 2024-25 FAFSA and Minnesota Dream Act is expected to open in December 2023.
North Star Promise Award Information
- How much money can you receive?
There is not a limit on the maximum term, yearly, or lifetime dollar amount of an award you can receive. The amount you receive is based on the "last-dollar" calculation of your eligibility on a term-by-term basis. You can receive up to 100% of the amount charged in tuition and required fees per term, minus all other sources of gift aid you receive.
For students earning 2-year degrees, you can receive the award for a total of 60 credits. For students earning 4-year degrees, you can receive the award for a total of 120 credits.
If funds are available, the highest-need students may also receive North Star Promise Plus funds. Details on this provision of the program are still being determined.
- How is the award determined?
The college or university you are attending will calculate your award amount based on the eligibility requirements and award calculation. They will determine your tuition and required fee charges, subtract all other sources of gift aid (scholarships, grants, waivers and stipends) and award the remaining amount in a North Star Promise scholarship.
- How are students notified about their scholarship?
Students are notified of their scholarship through the college or university’s standard awarding process.
- What does "last-dollar" mean?
Before calculating your award, “last-dollar” programs consider any other sources of gift aid funding that you receive. “Gift aid” is financial aid that does not require repayment, such as scholarships, grants, stipends, third-party payments and tuition waivers. Loans and work study are not sources of gift aid. The goal of this strategy is to utilize available program funds to provide as many eligible students as possible a tuition- and fee-free pathway to a college education.
- Is the scholarship renewable? If so, for how long?
As a last-dollar scholarship, this award is calculated on a term-by-term basis. If new sources of gift aid are awarded to you, the North Star Promise scholarship will be recalculated.
You must continue to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards at your school.
There is no maximum length of time for which you can receive the award. However, for students earning 2-year degrees, you can receive the award for a total of 60 credits. For students earning 4-year degrees, you can receive the award for a total of 120 credits. The maximum credits for which any student is eligible is a total of 120 credits.
- Can I be eligible, but not receive an award?
Yes. If you meet all of the eligibility requirements but the total of your other sources of “gift aid” already covers the amount of your tuition and required fees, you will not be awarded a North Star Promise Scholarship. This is because the sum of your other aid has already provided you with enough funds to cover your tuition and required fees charges.
However, if you do not receive a North Star Promise Scholarship because other financial aid already covers your tuition and fees, you will still be considered for the North Star Promise Plus funds. Details on this provision of the program are still being determined.
- Is there an age restriction on the North Star Promise Scholarship?
No, there is no age criteria used for eligibility for the program.
More information about dependent and independent students can be found on the North Star Promise Scholarship Frequently Asked Questions webpage.
- In order to qualify, do I have to be a new, first-time student in the 2024-25 school year?
No, the program is open to new and returning students who meet the eligibility criteria.