College Aid and Scholarships
College Financial Aid & Scholarship Information
To determine the approximate cost of a specific college or university, use the Net Price Calculator on the school's website. Every college/university is required to have some kind of price calculator on its website. Cost estimate precision depends on what and how much information is asked for. Generally, Net Price Calculators provide trustworthy cost estimates for families.
Completing the FAFSA is is the first step in the college financial aid process. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
The FAFSA is used to determine the amount of money a family is expected to contribute to the price of attending a postsecondary institution. This is a required form for any student seeking federal aid. Completing the FAFSA is the single most important thing you can do to get financial assistance paying for college.
Federal student aid is awarded in the form of grants, low-interest loans, and work-study funds. Grants are typically awarded on the basis of need and generally do not have to be repaid. Many colleges require students receiving any kind of scholarship funds to complete a FAFSA. Additionally, some families complete a FAFSA in order to get access to unsubsidized federal loan funds that are not income dependent.
The FAFSA can be submitted any time beginning December 2023 for the following academic school year. Deadlines for completion vary by college, so it is important to check college websites carefully for FAFSA deadlines. FAFSA filers report income and tax figures from two years prior.
When completing the FAFSA, parents will identify colleges to receive your FAFSA report. You may submit the FAFSA to a college even if your child hasn't yet submitted his/her application for admission to the school. After filing the FAFSA, if you want your FAFSA information sent to more colleges than what you originally listed, go back to www.fafsa.gov and add additional colleges as a correction.
Expect to receive financial aid information from colleges in the spring.
To determine your approximate financial aid package, use FAFSA4caster. It is a free financial aid calculator that gives you and early estimate of your eligibility for federal student aid: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/estimate.
Types of Scholarships
- College-specific: For most students, their best bet is scholarships offered through their college or university. Students should find out if scholarships at the schools to which they are applying require a separate application or if their application for admission ALSO serves as the application for scholarships. Students should check the admissions website of the colleges to which they have applied AND the site for the specific major they are interested in (many colleges offer major-specific scholarships). Students may also contact the Admissions Office or Financial Aid Office of a college to ask about additional scholarships.
- Local: Seniors should check Family Connection. When logged in to Family Connection, click on the 'Colleges' tab. Scroll down to 'Scholarships & Money.' Click on 'Scholarship List.' The Counseling Office posts local (and some national) scholarship information in Family Connection as it is received in our office. Other places students may look for local scholarships: the student’s employer, their parents’ employers, civic and community organizations, local businesses, religious institutions or organizations, banks or credit unions, etc.
- National: National scholarships can be found on many scholarship search sites including:
Federal Work-Study Program
Although more than 3,400 colleges and universities across the country take part in the Federal Work-Study Program, some schools award positions based on the date that students complete the FAFSA. This is a strong reason to file your FAFSA as soon as possible each year. Here is a helpful article on the Federal Work Study Program.
Minnesota has agreements with neighboring states to provide lower tuition for Minnesota residents to attend public colleges and universities in those states. This is called reciprocity. Typically, non-resident admission fees and tuition are reduced (or eliminated) if you are a reciprocity student.
Minnesota has reciprocity agreements with Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. It also has an agreement with the Canadian province of Manitoba, and a limited agreement with Iowa Lakes Community College in northwestern Iowa.
Midwest Student Exchange Program
The Midwest Student Exchange Program, or MSEP, is a multi-state tuition reciprocity program. Through the MSEP, public institutions agree to charge students no more than 150% of the in-state resident tuition rate for specific programs; private institutions offer a 10% reduction on their tuition rates. All enrollment decisions are made at the discretion of the receiving campus and the campus may exercise its right to limit participation or set specific admission requirements for MSEP. To learn more about which states and which institutions participate in MSEP, go to http://msep.mhec.org/.
529 College Savings Plans
Learn more about Minnesota's 529 College Savings Plan and the Private College 529 Plan.
Additional information on financial aid and scholarships
- College Greenlight - A scholarship resource site for first-generation college students
- CSS/Financial Aid Profile - Financial aid information provided by the College Board
- Education Tax Credits - Information on tax credits, deductions and savings that can help with college expenses
- Naviance Student (Scholarships) - Log in to search scholarship opportunities
- Federal Student Aid - Comprehensive guide to federal aid and loans
- FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid
- FinAid - Student guide to financial aid
- Financial Aid Toolkit - US Dept of Education information on Federal Student Aid
- Institute for College Access & Success - Works to make college available and affordable to people of all backgrounds
- MoneyGeek A helpful guide to completing the FAFSA
- Project on Student Debt - Organization dedicated to making college more available and affordable to people of all backgrounds
- Sallie Mae - Financial planning for college
- Scholarship Search (Fastweb) - Search scholarships based on your strengths, interests and skills
- Scholarship Search (GoodCall) - Search scholarship and financial aid information
- Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid - Reports from the College Board on trends in pricing and aid