Winona campus offers eligible students tuition, room and board at University of Minnesota rates
St. Mary's University of Minnesota on Tuesday threw a tempting offer on the table to low- and middle-income families: Enroll at our Winona campus and your tuition, room and board will cost no more than that at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. That guarantee — a private college education at a public university price — would save eligible students more than $45,000 over four years, the university estimates.
While St. Mary's expects the deal to add only about 25 new freshmen in the first year, the plan brings a compelling new twist to Minnesota's ongoing tuition wars. Observers said they weren't aware of another program in the country where a private college guaranteed to match the cost of a publicly financed, state flagship university.
Tuition has become a vital issue in Minnesota, with rising calls for schools and lawmakers to rein in costs. The U and other public schools in recent years have rolled out tuition-free plans for needy students; Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to offer ideas in the coming legislative session.
Officials at St. Mary's, which draws significant numbers of students from the Twin Cities, said they had become increasingly frustrated by stories of students who thought private college out of reach. That, together with the school's religious mission, compelled them to act. "Families were telling us, 'We didn't think we could afford St. Mary's,' " said Tony Piscitiello, vice president for admissions at the college.
That included students who were accepted to St. Mary's but never enrolled. When officials asked why, many said they just didn't think they could pay for private college and chose public institutions instead, Piscitiello added.
The new offer, called the Brother James Miller Scholarship for Access, guarantees eligible students will pay tuition, room and board for St. Mary's equal to or less than the U. St. Mary's estimates the plan would bring down the cost of its education next year from $28,000 to about $17,000. [...Snip] More at the Pioneer Press