first-year students receiving grants & scholarships


Minnesota students with family incomes below $50,000


average share of tuition covered by grants for first-year students

It’s important not to eliminate a college based solely on the perceived cost without first factoring in financial aid. Very few students pay the “sticker price” posted on college websites, and a more expensive institution actually may award more financial aid. That is why it’s vital for families to learn how much financial aid a college will offer before ruling out a school.

1. What will you actually pay?

For some goods and services, there’s a listed price that is different from what you will actually pay. The same goes for college. Scholarships and grants make a huge difference for most students, lowering the listed price to a "net price" and making college much more affordable.

And each institution will have different costs and offer different aid. To know what you would receive in grants and scholarships — and to know for certain what you would pay for college — you’ll need to go through the financial aid process at the colleges you’re considering. That’s the only way to know how much you’ll be expected to pay. (You can get a good estimate by using the college's net price calculator — a tool every college offers.)

In fact, looking just at tuition costs, on average our first-year students pay about one-third of the listed tuition price.

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Aid at nonprofit colleges

We're more affordable than you may think with financial aid offers that may include specific scholarships, promise guarantee programs or meeting full demonstrated need.

2. How likely will you graduate in four years?

No one plans to take six years to graduate, but it happens. Graduating on time helps save money and allows students to start working — and earning — earlier.

Together our 18 private colleges have the highest four-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time students in Minnesota. Yes, that's higher than the U of M and the Minnesota State systems. And when comparing our rate to other states’ rates for their public and private institutions, ours is the best in the Midwest and ranks second in the nation.

3. What’s the value of your investment?

Families should consider the quality of the education a student will receive. How will the choice help begin a career — and advance it later? How else will students be impacted by the experiences they have there?

Students at private colleges are more likely to interact directly with their professors, with most classes having fewer than 20 students. That’s unlike public universities, where students are more likely to end up in large classes taught by teaching assistants. That means our students are both supported and challenged in ways that ensure they get the most out of college. The value comes in what happens outside the classroom too, from internships to undergraduate research, from student clubs to community service.

The result? The knowledge and skills gained at Minnesota private colleges are what employers seek. It’s also about seeing the world in a different way, building relationships and growing as a person.

Learn more about the education and outcomes at specific institutions to help you consider this question.

Find support at financial aid offices

Don't hesitate to contact the staff who work at our colleges’ financial aid offices to find out what type of scholarships or other aid are available. Their advice and insights can be invaluable as you explore how to pay for college.