Two years ago, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system launched an ambitious campaign to raise $20 million for scholarships.

 On Wednesday, officials announced that they had raised $39.5 million -- nearly double their goal.

The "Access to Excellence" drive raised enough money for 28,000 scholarships, Chancellor Steven Rosenstone announced Wednesday. The original plan was for 16,000.

The campaign "exceeded our wildest imagination," Rosenstone told MnSCU's board of trustees.

The average scholarship was just over $1,400.

Rosenstone said this was the first time that MnSCU had conducted a "unified campaign" for scholarships across the system, which has more than 400,000 students at 24 two-year colleges and seven state universities. "We took on this challenge because we knew how absolutely critical scholarships are to ensuring that our campuses continue to be a place of hope and opportunity for all Minnesotans," he said. "As a result of these scholarships, thousands of students are now closer to realizing their dreams of a brighter future."