It may not make a huge dent in their tuition bills, but about 100,000 Minnesotans will get a $295 bonus in their state student aid next year.
The increase is coming in the annual Minnesota State Grant award program, a $180 million fund for lower- and middle-income college students.
On average, students who qualify get a state grant of $1,825 a year toward their college expenses, according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, which runs the program.
But state officials decided to bump up next year's awards as a result of a $20 million surplus in the fund, said Ginny Dodds, manager of state financial aid programs.
The $295 bonus, which was announced Thursday, kicks in as of July 1.
"It's at least [worth] a couple of books," said Dodds. "I think students would appreciate that. It may mean they have to borrow that much less."
The Legislature funds the program, which is designed for Minnesota residents who attend colleges or universities within the state.
The grant is tied to financial need, Dodds said, and the amount varies depending on family income as well as the cost of the college. Students apply for the state grant using the same financial aid form, known as FAFSA, used for other student aid programs, such as federal Pell grants.
Dodds said that virtually all Minnesota colleges and universities, public and private, participate in the program.