February 2024
Minnesota state capitol building in spring

Last year state policymakers made a major new investment in college affordability — but they left out one-third of the low- and middle-income students in our state who attend four-year colleges, those attending private nonprofit colleges. Lawmakers have a chance to offer equal support for all college students this session.

The Promise Equalization Scholarship that is being proposed would make a financial aid investment in students at nonprofit colleges that is similar to the investment made in students at the University of Minnesota through the North Star Promise Scholarship program, which was created last year. Low- and middle-income students who attend private nonprofit colleges need and deserve similar increases in financial aid.

Promise Equalization Scholarship


$13.9 million in students at nonprofit colleges


Estimated average scholarship of $1,045 for 13,300 low- and middle-income college students currently receiving State Grants


Add a new scholarship for State Grant recipients


Help low- and middle-income students at nonprofit colleges who were left out of last year’s historic investments

For decades the state’s financial aid policy has provided students at nonprofit colleges with the same level of financial aid as students at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus. This approach treated all students fairly. Creating the Promise Equalization Scholarship would restore financial aid parity for students at nonprofit colleges.

It’s important to empower students to make the best college decision for themselves — one size doesn’t fit all. And low- and middle-income students at nonprofit colleges have the same financial needs as students at Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota who are helped by North Star Promise.

Why students at nonprofit colleges matter to Minnesota

About one-third of recent high school graduates who attend a four-year college in Minnesota choose to enroll in a nonprofit college.Nonprofit colleges provide access and success to students of diverse backgrounds:


Share of Pell Grant recipients pursuing bachelor’s degrees are enrolled at nonprofit colleges


Share of students of color and Native American students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in the state attend nonprofit colleges


Share of bachelor’s degrees awarded in Minnesota by nonprofit colleges annually

And nonprofit colleges have the highest on-time graduation rates in the state for Pell Grant recipients.

Need-based financial aid is the main way the state invests directly in students at nonprofit colleges. Even with this new investment, less than 4 percent of state higher education appropriations would go directly to students at nonprofit colleges, with 92 percent of funding going directly to public institutions and students, and the remaining 4 percent going to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

With the new Promise Equalization Scholarship, the State of Minnesota would partner with nonprofit colleges to make college more affordable and reduce student debt for those students at nonprofit colleges with the most need — just as the North Star Promise Scholarship has done for low- and middle-income students at public and tribal colleges.

More details about the Promise Equalization Scholarship are included in the 2024 Legislative Request, which is available below. If you are interested in the impact of the State Grant program in general, including at individual institutions, visit our Minnesota State Grant: Why it matters page. If you have questions or feedback, please contact the Council.