Scholarships are one of two forms of financial aid that do not need to be repaid. They are awarded based on a student's academic or athletic achievement, demographic, cultural or religious background, or special skills and talents.

Main Scholarships

Given the breadth of available public and private scholarships, you might wonder where to find those that align with your background and future plans. One way is to check with the financial aid office of each college you may attend.

While an institution might offer you a scholarship as part of the financial aid package without additional paperwork, you may also need to search and apply for specific scholarships. Additionally, some colleges require students to complete the CSS Profile, (an in-depth assessment of financial need) for scholarship consideration. As a rule of thumb, expect colleges to request you fill out the FAFSA to determine your financial need. 

Where to start? Research and create a list of potential scholarships you could apply for and organize them by submission deadlines.

To help you get a feel for what’s available, below is a partial list of scholarships and tuition aid:

MN Academic Excellence Scholarship

The Minnesota Academic Excellence Scholarship helps students who have demonstrated outstanding ability, achievement, and potential in one of several subjects: English or creative writing, fine arts, foreign language, math, science, or social science.

Funding for this program comes from the sale of special collegiate license plates.  The availability and amount of scholarships depend on that funding.


High school graduates must be admitted to enroll full-time in a nonsectarian, baccalaureate degree-granting program at:

  • The University of Minnesota.
  • A Minnesota State university.
  • A Minnesota private, baccalaureate degree-granting college or university.

If the institutions you are considering participate, contact them directly to apply. Students must enroll during the year of their high school graduation, but the scholarship can be renewed annually for up to three academic years if certain academic standards are met.

Private Scholarships

Many community organizations, foundations, corporations, clubs, civic, and cultural groups provide student scholarships.

If you’re looking for private sources of financial aid, you should:

  • Check with your or your family’s employer, professional association, or labor union.
  • Ask if your employer has an education policy that pays for employees to enroll in job-related postsecondary courses.
  • Inquire at community organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, churches, or Rotary Clubs.
  • Check with your high school counselor.

Before you accept any scholarships review the scholarship tips below. In addition, be wary of any scholarship search companies charging fees, guarantying scholarships, and asking for your credit card or checking account information to receive a scholarship.

Scholarship Tips

1. Ask questions

As you search for scholarships, asking the questions below will help you determine whether there is a good match between each scholarship program and your circumstances and educational goals.

  • What is the maximum scholarship award? 
  • Is the scholarship one-time only or can it be renewed beyond the initial award? 
  • Is the scholarship based only on merit (no financial need requirement), or does it require both merit and need? 
  • How is financial need defined for scholarships that require need? 
  • How does the scholarship program define merit? 
  • Does the scholarship require admission to a degree-granting program? 
  • Does the scholarship require full-time enrollment? 
  • What are the other eligibility requirements? 
  • Is the scholarship targeted to a specific educational institution, specific field of study or major, residents of a specific geographic area, first bachelor's degree, or master's or doctoral level programs? 
  • Is a personal statement or essay required? 
  • Are letters of recommendation required? 
  • Is an interview required? 
  • What is the application process? 

2. Reach out to the institutions in your community

Search for scholarships available in your community or from your educational institution. Generally, you have the best chance of receiving scholarships from these sources. 

3. Be aware of scholarship deadlines

Scholarship deadlines can be six to nine months preceding the start of the academic year, while others may be closer to the start of the fall term. Some scholarship programs also accept applications for spring and summer terms.

4. Find out how your prospective college applies external scholarships

Many schools allow students to combine outside scholarships with financial aid the school has awarded with no impact on the student's financial aid package unless total aid (including the outside scholarship) exceeds the total cost of attendance. If it does, loans and work-study are reduced first, usually eliminating the need for a reduction in scholarships and grants awarded by the institution. However, some institutions reduce dollar-for-dollar scholarships or grants they have awarded when students receive outside scholarships. Check with each school to inquire about its policy.

Minnesota Indian Scholarship Program

Scholarships are available to eligible American Indian students who are either undergraduate students enrolled at least three-quarter time, or graduate students enrolled at least half time.


To qualify for this scholarship, you must be:

  • One-fourth or more American Indian;
  • Minnesota resident for state financial aid purposes;
  • Enrolled in an accredited college, university or vocational school in Minnesota; and
  • Undergraduates must qualify for a Pell or State Grant; graduate students must demonstrate need.

Students should complete the FAFSA and complete 

The priority deadline for complete applications is July 1.

American Indian Tuition Waiver

The American Indian Tuition Waiver at the University of Minnesota—Morris recognizes the campus’ origins as the Morris Indian Boarding School founded in the 1800s. American Indian students admitted to the University of Minnesota—Morris may apply for this waiver by submitting the American Indian tuition waiver application and supplying acceptable documentation.


To qualify for this benefit, students must be accepted by the university’s admissions office, complete the American Indian Tuition Waiver application, and provide American Indian heritage documentation, which may include the following:

  • Tribal registration proving membership in a federally-recognized American Indian tribe;
  • Certificate of Indian blood; and
  • Other legal documentation of American Indian heritage.

Complete the application on the university's website. Students with questions should call (800) 992-8863 or e-mail

MN Indian Scholarship

Minnesota Office of Higher Education
1450 Energy Park Drive, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55108
Lara Gerhardson, Outreach Liaison
Bemidji State University
114 Decker Hall
Bemidji, MN 56601

Scholarships for Students of Color

There are several private scholarship programs for students of color. Search your college’s website for scholarships specific to your identities.

Orphaned or Foster Children

Orphans and those who were in foster care may be eligible for an increased level of financial aid assistance. Orphans, wards of the court, and children placed in foster care any time since they turned 13 are considered independent students and are not required to submit financial information about their parents on the FAFSA.

If you attend a Minnesota state college or university, you may be eligible for a tuition waiver for certain courses or programs. Check with the college for more details.

Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) for Foster Youth

Education vouchers are federal funds made available to states through the Chafee Foster Care Independence Act. Education vouchers are intended to help current and former foster care youth pay for postsecondary education. The award amount is based on the amount of other aid the student is receiving, and an estimated living expenses budget which is a part of the application.


You must be under age 21 at the application due date, accepted into an accredited postsecondary program, and meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • In foster care on or after your 16th birthday;
  • Adopted from foster care after your 16th birthday;
  • In foster care on or after your 16th birthday when a relative accepts a transfer of permanent;
  • legal and physical custody through a juvenile court order; and
  • Are or were under state guardianship on your 18th birthday.

Applications are available on the Minnesota Department of Health websiteApplications for the 2021-2022 school year are being accepted until April 1, 2022. Complete the application for each year you need money for school.

To apply for an initial voucher, you must attach a copy of your financial aid award, FAFSA, postsecondary school acceptance letter, and most recent transcripts. Students may reapply for education/training vouchers every year until age 23 if they are participating in the education/training voucher program and making satisfactory progress.

Make sure you collect all the required documents before you submit your application.

Education and Training Voucher Program

Department of Human Services
Photo of college graduates

Financial Aid for Students in Specific Programs

Health Professions Programs

Various federal scholarship and loan programs are available for students interested in health professions, such as nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, or medicine. Campus-based programs include the Health Professions Student Loan Program, the Primary Care Loan Program, Loans for Disadvantaged Students Program, and Nursing Student Loan Program.


Students should contact the financial aid office at the school where they are enrolled or intend to apply for admission. 

For other financial aid resources from the Health Resources and Services Administration or more information about their programs, visit their website or contact them with your questions.

Minnesota Health Professions Loan Forgiveness

The Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health and Primary Care administers loan forgiveness programs for the following health professionals:

  • Rural and Urban Physicians: primary care residents or students (family practice, internal medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics, psychiatry).
  • Mid-level Practitioners: nurse practitioner students, physician assistant students, certified nurse midwife students, nurse anesthetist students, or advanced clinical nurse specialist students.
  • Nurses: licensed practical nurse students or registered nurse students.
  • Dentists: dental students or licensed dentists.
  • Pharmacists: students or residents in a pharmacy program or licensed pharmacists
    • Allied Health Care Tech Faculty: students studying to become allied health care instructors.
    • Nurse Faculty: students studying to become nursing instructors.

Application forms and more information are available on the Minnesota Department of Health website

  • Early Application Cycle for Selected Professions: September 13 - November 22
  • Regular Application Cycle for All Professions: November 1—January 7, 2022

If you have any questions, please send an email to:

Minnesota Aspiring Teachers of Color Scholarship Program

Minnesota Aspiring Teachers of Color Scholarship Pilot Program provides postsecondary financial assistance to eligible undergraduate and graduate students who are preparing to become teachers, have demonstrated financial need, and belong to racial or ethnic groups underrepresented in the state’s teacher workforce.

The annual award for full-time students is up to $10,000. Awards for students enrolled less than full-time are prorated on a per-credit basis. For undergraduate students, full-time means enrollment in a minimum of 15 or more credits per term; for graduate students, full-time means enrollment in a minimum of six graduate credits or equivalent. Students may receive up to $25,000 in a lifetime.

ATCS Eligibility

To be eligible, students must:

  • Be enrolled at an eligible institution located in Minnesota in a: 
    • Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) approved teacher preparation program seeking initial licensure; or
    • Two-year program specifically designed to prepare early childhood educators;
  • Be a person of color or American Indian;
  • Be meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements as defined by the institution;
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or MN Dream Act application for aid year; and 
  • Demonstrate financial need.

Eligible Institutions with Teacher Preparation Programs

Eligible Minnesota Institutions with Two-Year Early Childhood Education Programs

ATCS Application

If interested in applying to this program, please complete the FAFSA or MN Dream Act application before completing the Minnesota Aspiring Teachers of Color Scholarship applicationThe priority deadline is June 17th, 2022. 

You should only complete the 2022-2023 Student Section of the application and contact your school’s Financial Aid Office to submit the College or University Section of the application.

Complete applications must include the following:

  • Student Section including all the required information that is signed and dated;
  • College or University Section completed by an authorized representative at the college or university you attend that includes all of the required information; and
  • Completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Minnesota Dream Act application.

Incomplete applications will not be processed.

Need Help?

If you have questions and would like to request application forms, please contact:

Minnesota Aspiring Teachers of Color Scholarship Pilot Program 
Minnesota Office of Higher Education 
1450 Energy Park Drive, Suite 350 
St. Paul, MN 55108 
Tel: (651) 642-0567 or (800) 657-3866 
Fax: (651) 642-0675

ACTS Selection Process

Scholarships should be awarded to eligible applicants who submitted their application by the deadline. If there are insufficient funds, awards are prioritized using a combination of the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and application completion date:

  • Eligible applicants with the lowest EFC are awarded first
  • Eligible applicants with identical EFCs are prioritized by application completion date

Eligible applicants with complete applications received by the priority application deadline who are not awarded are placed on a waiting list by order of application completion date. Complete applications from eligible applicants received after the priority application deadline are placed on the waiting list by order of application completion date.

Applicants selected to receive an award are expected serve as a full-time teacher in Minnesota after completing the program for which the grant was awarded.

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