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Cali Owings, Published October 22 2013

Several Minnesota schools to waive college application fees this month

ST. PAUL – More than 35 Minnesota public and private schools will waive application fees this month for potential students.

In an effort to increase access to higher education for underrepresented students, schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, all University of Minnesota campuses and several private schools will not charge application fees next week as part of “College Knowledge Month.”

The Minnesota Department of Education first aimed to increase the number of high school students applying for college with a “College Application Week.”

Last year, 38 post-secondary institutions in Minnesota waived application fees for a week in November.

This year’s program was expanded to one month and includes programming at several Minnesota sites to help students learn more about what is available to them and plan for college.

The University of Minnesota’s five campuses, where application fees range from $25 to $55, will accept fee waivers through the program.

Many of the state’s private schools do not require an application fee or waive the fee for online applications.

Some MnSCU colleges have chosen to waive fees throughout the entire month of October, have selected a different week or do not charge a fee at all.

The standard application fee for MnSCU schools is $20. Some institutions will waive the fee for service members and veterans or in cases of “extreme financial need.”

Minnesota State University Moorhead will waive its $20 application fee during the week of Oct. 25-31. During College Application Week last year, MSUM received about 530 more applications than it did during the same period in 2011.

The number of applications doesn’t necessarily trigger a boost in enrollment at participating Minnesota schools.

Jessica Larson, communications specialist for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, said part of the reason they revamped the program was to discourage students from randomly applying to schools just because they could.

Larson, who is on the steering committee for “College Knowledge Month” with other education representatives, said they wanted students to be more intentional about the schools they applied to.

“We looked at adding more activities that would help students with that exploration piece,” she said.

The program aims to promote “a college-going culture in the entire school,” whether that be certificate programs, community and technical colleges or four-year schools, Larson said.

“It’s really just to give them the tools that they needed and the support that they needed to get through a college application,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599