On Nov. 9, NDSU announced a new NDSU Tuition Reward Program. Starting next fall, NDSU will offer substantial aid, waiving tuition and fees, for a large portion of current and future NDSU students.
The funding is available to any first-year student or returning students who started in summer 2023, fall 2023 or spring 2024. Recipients also have to have a family income of $80,000 or less and be Pell-Eligible as reported on the 2024-2025 FASFA. The program is limited to only legal residents of North Dakota and Minnesota. See the full list of requirements at the end.
The tuition program is a response to the recent Minnesota North Star Promise. Passed earlier this year, the North Star Promise now grants all Minnesota residents with a family income of under $80,000 free tuition at all Minnesota public colleges and universities.
Nearly half, 45%, of NDSU students are from Minnesota. NDSU President David Cook warned last May that the Minnesota policy would have “catastrophic implications,” worrying about the potential loss of many future Minnesota students due to cheaper in-state alternatives. Neighboring MSUM in Moorhead is covered in the North Star Promise. Concordia, too, a private school, has announced a similar program.
Even before Minnesota’s statewide tuition program, NDSU faced declining enrollment. Since 2014, enrollment has declined by the thousands. At NDSU’s peak in 2014, the university had 14,747 enrolled. In fall 2023, the number was only 11,952, an 18% decline.
“Eligibility for this program makes NDSU a great, affordable option for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity. Not only will this benefit students, but it will also benefit the state of North Dakota and the region,” said Seinquis Leinen, NDSU senior director of strategic enrollment management. “When you think of the number of students who come to NDSU and who stay in the state to pursue their career, it’s going to have a positive impact on [the] workforce.”
The $3.5 million program has secured enough funding through the NDSU Foundation for two years. The Foundation is the university endowment and is primarily funded by donations. It is estimated that 1,000 students will see benefits.
With NDSU facing recent budgetary problems, it is uncertain at the moment what the long-term funding plan is to sustain this program. NDSU, along with other eastern North Dakota colleges, over the summer, looked to the state for help. However, at least in these first two years, NDSU hasn’t received any assistance.
Here is the full list of requirements for eligibility: legal ND or MN resident eligible for the reciprocity rate, degree-seeking student who first enrolled at NDSU since summer 2023, family income of $80,000 or less, Pell-eligible, full-time (12+ credits), good academic stand and meet Satisfactory Academic Progress, pursuing a first bachelor’s degree, not in default on state or federal student loan and be a US citizen or permanent resident