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Feature

U reaches milestone in student support

Students will receive $200 million in grants and scholarships next year

By Deane Morrison

June 13, 2008

This coming year, the amount of grant and scholarship support for University of Minnesota students will pass a milestone. More than 40,000 students at all levels and on all campuses will receive over $200 million in grant or scholarship assistance, including tuition waivers, with undergraduates reaping the bulk of the benefits. More than $130 million will come from the University, including scholarship endowments in the University of Minnesota Foundation and Minnesota Medical Foundation. State and federal grants, plus grants from external agencies, will contribute about $75 million. Undergraduates will receive about $145 million in grants and scholarships, half from University sources. The rest will support graduate students and first professional students in programs such as medicine and dentistry. Together, the projected amount of grants and scholarships and a student payroll that also exceeds $200 million will provide over $400 million in financial support for University students. A major priority for University President Robert Bruininks is keeping access to a first-class university education open to all qualified students. "As the level of grant and scholarship assistance indicates, the University of Minnesota is very committed to ensuring that it remains affordable for students from all income levels at all student levels," he says. One factor powering the rise in grant and scholarship support is the record levels of private giving, especially to the Promise of Tomorrow Scholarship Drive. In 2005 the drive had a stated goal of $150 million in endowments, but it has now topped $230 million. Also, in 2008-09 the University will complete the implementation of its Founders Free Tuition Program for low-income undergraduates who are Minnesota residents and eligible for federal Pell grants. The program guarantees such students grant and scholarship awards that fully cover tuition and required fees. In 2008-09 it will support about 4,700 students, or 12 percent of all University of Minnesota undergraduates. In the future, the University wants to help even more students. "Now that Founders has been implemented for the lowest-income students, our next priority is to provide more need-based grant and scholarship support to students from the next higher income levels," Bruininks says. "We must also continue to provide incentives and support for timely graduation. All of these things can make a dramatic difference in keeping higher education affordable for all students." As for the student payroll, it remains above $200 million thanks to a University policy that designates all nonacademic jobs at 75 percent time or less for students. Every year the University employs upwards of 12,500 undergraduates and 8,500 graduate and professional students; many of the graduate students work as teaching or research assistants.