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Two Colleges in Twin Cities Offering Free Tuition to Inner-City Students

Two Colleges in Twin Cities Offering Free Tuition to Inner-City Students

Two colleges in the Twin Cities are offering two years of tuition-free schooling to inner-city students who graduate from public high schools in Minneapolis or St. Paul.

Organizers hope the program will help at least 200 students attend Minneapolis Community and Technical College or St. Paul College next fall. Both are two-year schools.

In 2007, Metropolitan State University, a four-year school, will join the program.

MCTC President Philip Davis says the idea was prompted by reports that less than 5 percent of minority ninth-graders in Minnesota’s two largest cities earn a four-year college degree by the time they turn 25.

“That’s something we can’t let go unchallenged,” he says. “We wanted to remove real and perceived barriers, so we said let’s just say the first two years of college are free. We wanted to create hope.”

Shane Harris, a senior at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis, says the program could change the way some students think about their future. He says some of his friends don’t know much about financial aid and have parents who didn’t attend college.

“Anything being paid for is a good thing because you don’t have to worry about it,” he says. “They should really try to promote it in the high schools now, while kids are looking for scholarships.”

To receive free schooling, students must be residents of Minneapolis or St. Paul and graduate from a public school in the city, including charter and alternative schools.

Students will be selected based on need. Tuition and fees at a school like MCTC are about $4,050 a year, Davis says. For low-income students, most of that would be covered by a federal Pell Grant. The program will fill any gaps in tuition and fees funding. Students will have to cover book and transportation costs.

Participants in the program will be expected to carry a full class load of 12 credits and must take a first-semester class that aims at building confidence and study and time-management skills.

Students who need help with English will attend a summer camp before they start college. And students must keep their grades up to stay in the program, which will also offer regular counseling and mentoring.

Associated Press

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