College is expensive, and the decision to go to college is not a small one. However, there is a way to get an associate’s degree for $0 in tuition cost, and a bachelor’s degree for only $15k, though the Power of YOU program and the Two + Two Scholarship at Augsburg.

Describing the Power of YOU program, the Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s website says it:
…is a program that makes college available tuition-free. Power of You funding covers the cost of tuition and fees after your state and federal grants are applied for two years or up to 72 credits at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) and Saint Paul College. POY funds do not pay for books and transportation costs. The Power of YOU supports as many students as possible based on student need and funds available for the programSaint_Paul_College_logo

MCTC_logoIn a nutshell, nearly every senior that will graduate in May this year, from an approved area high school, is able to attend a one of two fantastic community colleges with no tuition.

The program does not cover books and transportation, but there is also the cost to the student’s social and emotional life. But what makes this program so powerful is the way the recognize these hidden cost to college success. PoY students participate in cohort workshops that build skills in communicating with professors, navigating the school’s computer system, etc. These workshop are for PoY students only, and the administrators try to foster a brave space in which the youth can ask foundational questions which might be embarrassing in other spaces.

Another innovation in student connection is the PoY approach to student advising. Every PoY student in assigned an College advisor. These advisors work solely with the PoY student base. There are regular student-advisor meetings scheduled throughout the semester, and the advisors are available for scheduled appointments. However, a MCTC, to foster less formal relationship (a feeling of greater support and trust), the advisor spend time in the PoY Lounge. This space is available only to PoY students. It has computers and quiet spaces not available to the general student body. The PoY students are able to see their advisors outside the advisor’s office, sharing the same space as the student. In this environment, it is often easier to ask the simple questions that would be missed in scheduled sit-down appointments. The simple, “how do you turn this in?” or “I can’t figure out that” sort of questions can be brought up by naturally popping into conversation. Many of these small moments can build the trust needed for larger ones. The student is better positioned to asked questions about fears and hopes–honest sharing of goals.

PoY has a refreshing community engagement practice. PoY students are required to participate in 20 hours of community service each semester they are in the program. Often, they are directed to volunteer with organizations they have a personal or potential professional interest in. However, if the young person just wants to get their hours done, there are a number of fun and enriching way to fill their volunteer requirement right at the school. MCTC always needs help in their community and outreach events. This more casual option in important to students that might have transportation issues, or need more time to focus on their studies or tutoring. They are still learning by giving back, but it is not taking away from their more traditional learning.

After completing the PoY program, the student can be eligible for the Two + Two Scholarship at Augsburg College. This is a VERY restrictive course study, but, for the right student, it is an incredible opportunity.

To be eligible for this second program, the PoY student has to follow the “Auggie Plan” in their course work. This strict two-year class schedule has to be work out with a PoY advisor (who is in communication with the office of admissions at Augsburg) soon after acceptance to the PoY program. The Auggie Plan involves classes at MCTC that will fill Augsburg graduation requirements. Another drawback to this route is it often does not allow for any remedial classes. Auggie plan candidates would be expected to enter the PoY program at a college level.

The Auggie Plan allows for the awarding of the Two + Two Scholarship, which requires the then PoY grad to take out a $15,000 loan for tuition, over two years ($7500 a year), with the rest of the tuition costs covered by the institution and grants through FAFSA. $15,000 is still a lot of money, but it’s smaller than $35,000 or the average student debt from the class of 2015 (a number is only raising), and $139200 (the current cost of four years at Augsburg).

This four year option (or college in general) is not for everyone, it is only one of many opportunities for personal development, and is not the only path to find a fulfilling life.

Additionally, it must be noted that if a student is completing a GED this year (even with their original class) they are not eligible for the Power of YOU program. Also, if a young person has spent some time after graduation working or enjoying life, they are also not eligible for this program. In order to be eligible for the program, you must graduate or have been a student the same year as your fall enrollment. (i.e., graduate spring 2016, start MCTC fall 2016).

The window of opportunity for the student is small, and the line for available fund is filling up. If you know of a young person that would be a potential candidate (Eligibility Requirements HERE), please direct them to this opportunity. MCTC offers FAFSA workshops, Information Sessions, and the Advisors are happy to help with the young people and their families with the application process.

Please visit these sites for more information:

St. Paul Power of YOU!
St Paul Application
MCTC Power of YOU!
MCTC Application

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