Program will pay college tuition for local high schoolers

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Graduate from a Minneapolis or Saint Paul public high school in the spring of 2006, and you could go to college for two years tuition free. This is the offer extended from three area colleges involved in the “Power of You” program that was announced last week.

“Who all is going to college, I can’t hear you — who’s going to college?” Wilson Bradshaw, President of Metropolitan State University yells, as the auditorium filled with juniors and seniors at North Community High School scream in agreement.

Bradshaw, along with Mayor Rybak and two other area college presidents announced the “Power of You” program at North Community High School last week. North was just one stop for the “Power of You” tour that started with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and continued with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman visiting the high schools in St. Paul.

The presidents of Minneapolis Community and Technical College, St. Paul College and Metropolitan State University came together and created the program. “Because we are public institutions in the Twin Cities, we got together to think about how could we begin to participate in closing the education gap,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw told the students in the auditorium: “You have to take some action. One thing that you don’t have as an excuse is ‘I can’t afford it.’”
He urged students that post secondary education is a necessity for better lives.

“I’m going to tell you that, as much as you learn in high school, that’s not going to be enough. It’s not going to be enough for you, it’s not going to be enough for your families, it’s not going to be enough for your communities. You need to steer yourself to take advantage of this opportunity,” Bradshaw said.

To be considered for the program, students must be residents of Minneapolis or St. Paul and graduate from a public school in the city. This includes charter and alternative schools. Students will be selected based on need. The “Power of You” program will fill any gaps in tuition and fees funding. However, students will need to cover book and transportation costs.

Although the two years of free tuition sounds great, the “Power of You” program is about more than that, explained Bradshaw. “It’s not about giving out free tuition as much as it is about informing people in these two school districts of the opportunity that is already there for them.”
Many of the students in Minneapolis and St. Paul qualify for full federal aid already. The “Power of You” program will be used to supplement this funding.

“Our funding will be limited, but we have been successful at raising private funds,” Phil Davis, President of Minneapolis Community and Technical College, said.

The students accepted through this program will work with faculty and staff who will provide this core group of students with the support needed to survive college life. Students will need to take classes in time management, study skills and, if needed, skill classes in math or English.
“They will be given very special attention to make certain that they are successful,” Davis said.

“We’re very appreciative of the support of the community and foundations. Without them this would not happen; we’re very impressed with the fact that others recognize that education is an investment,” said Donovan Schwichtenberg, President of St. Paul College.

To apply for the program, print out and complete the Power of You application for admission at www.minneapolis.edu/powerofyou/, and submit it to MCTC or St. Paul College before June 1, 2006. Priority consideration will be given to applications received by May 1, 2006. Metropolitan State University will be added in the fall of 2007.

For more information, contact Walter Novillo at Minneapolis Community and Technical Community College at 612-659-6218 or 612-659-6731 (TTY) or at Walter.Novillo@minneapolis.edu. You may also contact Thomas Matos at St. Paul College 612-846-1325 or 612-846-1569 (TTY) or at Thomas.Matos@saintpaul.edu.

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