The University of Minnesota is improving access to a world-class education for Minnesota undergraduates from all socioeconomic backgrounds, despite claims by a recent letter writer (Readers Write, June 7).
Among the 68 schools in Minnesota offering four-year degrees, the Twin Cities campus ranks 54th in overall net price, making it among the most affordable options for Minnesota residents. For students from the lowest-income families, earning less than $30,000, our Twin Cities, Duluth, Morris and Crookston campuses have the four lowest average net prices of all four-year institutions in Minnesota — lower than any other Minnesota public, private or for-profit school.
In 2011-12, undergraduates on our campuses received $191 million in scholarships, a 47 percent increase over 2007-08. A crucial source of support for many students is the U Promise Scholarship, initiated in 2007-08 to enhance access for low-income students and expanded in 2009-10 to include middle-income students.
In 2012-13, the U Promise program provided more than $30 million in scholarships to students, improving access and affordability to our campuses for more than 13,500 Minnesotans.
Since fall 2007, in fact, we have approximately tripled the amount of need-based financial aid distributed to Minnesota students through our U Promise program.
Meanwhile, this fall the U is launching the President’s Emerging Scholars program to assist less-prepared, underserved students with scholarships and academic support. The program will serve 450 students and includes a $1,000 scholarship in year one and, if the student is on track to graduate, an additional $1,000 scholarship in year four.
In addition to providing more need-based aid, last year the U held resident undergraduate tuition to its lowest percentage increase in a generation and, in cooperation with state policymakers, will freeze resident undergraduate tuition at all campuses for the next two years.
University leadership also supported state and federal government reinvestments in financial aid grants, which will provide 11,000 undergraduate students an average increase of more than $800 a year. In addition, the U waives the admission application fee for low-income students, as part of our commitment to access and affordability.
The U is aware of the difficult economic circumstances facing many Minnesota students and their families, and continues to strengthen its commitment to providing a world-class education to students from all socioeconomic groups.
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Robert B. McMaster is vice provost and dean of undergraduate education at the University of Minnesota.