Staff Writer

Staff Writer

MN Office of Higher Education

With so many options, choosing a college is an exciting chance to begin exploring and pursuing the career path of your choice. At times, it may also feel a little overwhelming. One of the best ways to start narrowing down your search is to decide where you want to study before finding the program that fits your criteria.

College students in class

With nearly 200 public and private institutions in Minnesota, residents have access to programs of many kinds. Staying in the state has quite a few benefits, too, as it can be more affordable and familiar and often leads to strong job prospects upon graduation. Learn more about the advantages of staying in state for school below.

Close to Home

Students who relocate to another state for school end up having to establish their routines and navigate a completely new landscape. Finding a new dentist or figuring out where to get medications can be stressful, on top of the new classes that come with a higher education program. While many adjustments go along with moving to a new state and starting a new program, students who stay in their home state can easily rely on their support network of friends and family for in-person support.

Staying in Minnesota for higher education can also save a lot of time and money by avoiding the expenses that go along with moving far away. Moving to another state means having to pay for travel, including bringing belongings across the country and changing your driver's license to a new state.

Direct Admissions

Minnesota high school seniors who are on track to graduate will receive personalized communication that lists all participating institutions to which they are proactively admitted. This means students will know whether or not they will be accepted to a program prior to applying. Those students can then complete a free admissions application to their desired college or university, knowing they will get accepted. Over 50 Minnesota institutions participate in this program. To learn more about Direct Admissions, read our guide here.

Low Cost of Living

Compared to most states, Minnesota has a relatively low cost of living. You can get a yearly estimate of expenses by using our Cost of Living Tool. If you have the possibility of living with a parent or guardian during college, this option can also make college significantly more affordable.

Financial Aid

Most postsecondary institutions offer financial aid to students to lower their cost of attending college. The main source of student financial aid programs are the federal and state government, usually based on financial need. Additionally, many colleges and universities offer their own assistance to students through institutional grants and scholarships. Most Minnesota students receive financial aid, so it’s important for your to take the basic steps to access it.

Minnesota State Grant

The grant helps students from low- and moderate-income families pay for educational expenses at eligible Minnesota institutions. Learn more about the program and participating colleges and universities here.

If you meet the following criteria, you are eligible to apply:

  • You are a Minnesota resident
  • You are a graduate of a secondary school or its equivalent, or you are at least 17 years of age
  • You will be enrolled as an undergraduate for at least three credits at one of more than 130 eligible schools in Minnesota

Minnesota Future Together Grant

This program provides a tuition-free pathway for Minnesota residents earning a certificate, diploma, associate’s degree, or bachelor's degree at any public institution in the state.

Applicants must be enrolled as degree-seeking students in a program that leads to a career in one of the following high-need areas:

  • Healthcare
  • STEM
  • Business
  • Industry and Technology
  • Education
  • Public Service

If you are seeking a career in one of these areas, learn more about eligibility requirements here. Specific programs vary by campus, so be sure to contact your college to confirm qualifications.

The North Star Promise Scholarship

This program creates a tuition and fee-free pathway to higher education at approved institutions for Minnesota residents. This initiative is a “last-dollar” program, which covers costs remaining after other scholarships, grants, stipends, and tuition waivers have been applied. You can learn more about this program and its requirements here.

Some other grants and scholarships for Minnesota institutions are designed for specific programs and demographics. See a list of these plans here. When looking for financial support, go directly to your desired program or check with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. Search companies often make claims of guaranteeing cost savings in exchange for money but fail to deliver, so be sure to work with official programs directly.

Job Prospects

It is recommended that people study where they want to work. One of the benefits of being enrolled in an institution is the network that comes with it. When you go to school near the people you’ve already begun to connect with professionally, you’ll have the opportunity to expand it even further during college rather than starting fresh with a separate network. This can be very helpful when you begin your job search. With a robust job market and open roles in a variety of industries, Minnesota is a great place to begin your career and gain experience in your desired field.

If you are uncertain about what career you are going to pursue or are looking to explore career options, use our Career Exploration Tool. Through this tool, you can find occupations in demand, job postings, and career matches based on your skills. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to the programs that closely match your interests and long-term goals, you’ll be in a great position to decide on the school and region that’s best for you. For further support along the way, explore our Preparing for College page.


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