North Star Promise to Create Opportunities for Minnesota Students

Bemidji State University students cheering in the stands during the 2023 homecoming game

Minnesota’s new North Star Promise program will allow many Northern Minnesota high school graduates to attend college without worrying about tuition and fees.

According to data from the U.S. Census, a significant majority of Northern Minnesota families would be eligible to participate in this program and achieve the life-changing goal of a college education.

“This is a historic moment,” Dr. John L. Hoffman, president of Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College, said. “This investment in public higher education reestablishes Minnesota as a national leader in keeping college affordable for our students.”

A girl in a canoe on a lake with "Read about the North Star Promise scholarship program" in a bubble above her

The North Star Promise will ensure that students from families making less than $80,000 per year will have 100% of their tuition and fees covered at Minnesota’s two-year and four-year public colleges and universities after other federal and state financial aid is applied.

The North Star Promise program will begin for students entering college in the fall of 2024. In Northern Minnesota, this could help turn around college attainment rates that have slipped since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A survey of data for 87 Northern Minnesota cities shows that, on average, the percentage of high school graduates who enroll in college immediately following high school has fallen dramatically, while the percentage of graduates who do not enroll at all has more than doubled.

In 2016, 71.4% of graduates in the surveyed cities enrolled in college during their first fall after high school, while only 19.7% did not enroll in college at all. By 2021, the percentage of immediately enrolling graduates in those cities had fallen by nearly one-third to 54.3%, while the percentage of graduates not enrolling more than doubled to 44.6%.

State data also demonstrates that increased education consistently leads to increased opportunities in the workforce. The 88 communities surveyed represented 25 Northern Minnesota counties; in those counties, residents with either some college or an associate’s degree (81.5%) or a bachelor’s degree (86%) participated in their county’s workforce at a significantly higher rate than residents with only a high school diploma or equivalent (73.6%).

The North Star Promise creates an attainable pathway to education, which then leads to employment opportunities for the majority of Northern Minnesota high school graduates. For many of these students, the cost of higher education will no longer be a barrier.

“In short, students win,” Hoffman said. “And when students win, so do our local economies. This truly is a revolutionary package of legislation that will help carry Minnesota into a brighter future.”

Eligibility & Additional NSP Scholarship Information

North Star Promise will be available starting in the fall of 2024. The program is being administered by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, which will release more detailed information over the coming months. Prospective students and families are encouraged to explore the current eligibility and award information available.

Two Bemidji State students enjoying a fall day by the lake on the Bemidji State campus