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University of St. Thomas Plans to Assist Low-income Students

ST. PAUL, Minn.  — The University of St. Thomas in St. Paul plans to launch a two-year program aimed at helping low-income students earn degrees.

The Dougherty Family College at St. Thomas will start with $18 million in private donations, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. That includes money from Mike Dougherty, head of the Dougherty Financial Group.

The school, which would take about 150 students in its first class, is geared toward helping low-income students earn an associate’s degree in liberal arts and start on an eventual bachelor’s degree. The yearly cost of the program is $15,000, but with scholarships and grants, tuition could be as low as $1,000.

“I really feel like it’s important for University of St. Thomas as a Catholic university to be involved in the community,” said University of St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan. “And to be looking at whatever the social issues are in our community which aren’t allowing every person to realize their full potential.”

According to Sullivan, the Dougherty Family College would be separate from the university’s undergraduate program. She said academic performance in high school won’t be as big of a factor as the student’s willingness to succeed.

“It’s going to be very focused on looking at your resilience … When have you faced challenges and what have you done?” she said. “ACTs are going to be optional.”

Students would have four days of intensive schooling and would also have the opportunity to work for a business once a week to gain experience. The students of the program would also receive free breakfast, lunch and a transportation pass.

The school has applied for accreditation. The process could take several months.

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